Health > Low Sodium in Seniors: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies 
7th Mar 2022

Low Sodium in Seniors: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies 

 Low sodium levels in the body is a prevalent problem faced by the seniors in our community. Seniors may face sodium deficiency problems due to various reasons including health problems or other disorders. Sodium is a vital element for the body, as it helps to maintain optimum water levels in the body. Owing to this, seniors must maintain proper sodium levels in the body. In this blog, you will understand the reasons for low sodium levels in seniors, its symptoms, and ways to raise the sodium levels back to normal. 

What exactly are Sodium Levels?  

Sodium is a crucial electrolyte for our body and plays an important role in maintaining water balance in the body. Further, sodium also helps in facilitating efficient muscle functioning, proper nerve health, and stabilizing blood pressure. These reasons make it necessary for seniors to maintain appropriate sodium levels in their bodies. 

Low sodium levels in the body can cause a medical problem called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia occurs due to a disparity in the sodium and water levels in the body. In a healthy adult body, the normal sodium levels range from somewhere between 135 and 145 mEq/L. Any reading below 135 mEq/L is diagnosed as hyponatremia. 

What Causes Low Sodium Levels in Seniors?  

Typically, it is seniors that suffer from low sodium levels the most. This condition is especially widespread among seniors residing in elder-care facilities, or hospitals for medical treatment. The reason for this is, seniors are usually prescribed medications contributory to low sodium levels. Below are some other reasons for low sodium levels in seniors: 

  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Dehydration 
  • Inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion syndrome 
  • Kidney problems 
  • Liver diseases 
  • Heart problems 
  • Medications like antidepressants, or diuretics 

Symptoms of Low Sodium Levels in Seniors  

Every case of sodium deficiency is different in seniors. Some seniors experience only mild symptoms, while others might have to endure the most extreme symptoms. The majority of seniors with low sodium levels face problems of confusion, inconsistent personality, and fatigue. More serious cases of sodium deficiency can exhibit symptoms like seizures and fits. Some symptoms of low sodium levels or sodium deficiency are: 

  • Vomiting and nausea  
  • Frequent headaches 
  • Lethargy 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Cramps 
  • Irritability 

How to Increase Sodium Levels in Seniors?  

The following are some ways to increase  sodium levels in seniors and fight off various health issues caused by a sodium deficiency: 

  • The easiest way to increase sodium levels in the body is to reduce your water intake. Hyponatremia is caused due to an imbalance between the sodium and water levels in the body. Thus, lowering the water intake can help raise sodium levels in the body. 
  • One of the major causes of low sodium levels in the body is the excess intake of diuretics (any substance that promotes the production of urine). One should curb the intake of such diuretics; it is advised that you consult a doctor for medicinal alternatives that do not adversely affect sodium levels. 
  • Increasing salt consumption can help regulate sodium levels in the body. However, it is recommended that you take a doctor’s advice before taking this step, as it can be counterproductive to overall health. Salt is considered a rich source of sodium, and the consumption of the same can help maintain a proper balance. 

What Foods Raise Sodium Levels?  

Improving your diet and incorporating more sodium-rich foods can help you increase your sodium levels. Given below are some foods that are high in sodium and can help seniors in fighting sodium deficiency:  

  • Bread 
  • Bananas 
  • Olives 
  • Cottage cheese 
  • Rice 
  • Salted nuts 
  • Margarine 
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Pasta 

Further, lowering your caffeine and alcohol intake also helps raise sodium levels in the body. Salt tablets are increasingly becoming a popular way to defer sodium deficiency, but it is advised that you consult a doctor before consuming any.  

In a Nutshell  

Sodium deficiency is a grave health hazard, and if left untreated it can lead to serious long-term complications. The symptoms vary from person to person, while most people only exhibit mild symptoms, others can also bear a more severe brunt of the problem. This health condition is more prevalent among the seniors in our citizenry and can be due to various factors. However, the treatment for sodium deficiency is fairly simple and can be easily incorporated into our daily lifestyle. 

Read Also : What are some effective therapies for seniors to keep their blood sugar levels under control?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to recover from sodium deficiency?

This is solely based on the severity of sodium deficiency in the body. While most people can recover from low sodium levels within 24 hours, more severe cases might take up to several years to recover from this condition. 

What happens when sodium levels are low?

One of the more noticeable symptoms of sodium deficiency in seniors is irritability, confusion, and lethargy

What is the normal sodium level for adults?

The normal sodium levels in adults range from 135 mEq/L to 145 mEq/L. Any reading below 135 mEq/L is considered to be sodium deficiency.