Role of Sodium in Human body
Sodium is a mineral that is very important in the regulation of nerve impulses transport. Moreover, it controls the polarization and depolarization of the nerve cells while transferring nerve signals. Most of the body’s sodium is located in blood and in the extracellular fluid. Sodium helps to maintain electrolyte balance in the body fluids. The main source of sodium is the sodium chloride that we frequently use in our food. It is primarily lost through urine and sweat. The sodium balance in the body is maintained by the healthy kidneys. When kidneys are not working in healthy condition, two types of conditions usually arrive:
Hyponatremia (too low sodium)
Hypernatremia (too high sodium)
In this article, the discussion will be about sodium importance and its deficiency issues.
Importance of sodium:
Sodium mainly plays an important role in our body that is:
Maintaining blood volume (Mechanism):
The total amount of sodium in body affects the blood volume and also of extracellular fluid volume. Sodium concentration and blood volume is continuously checked by our body.
When sodium concentration becomes too high (hypernatremia) sensors in the heart, blood vessels and kidneys detect this change and the stimulus is sent to kidneys to increase sodium excretion. Thus, the blood volume is restored to normal.
When blood volume or sodium concentration becomes too low, the sensors stimulate the mechanism to increase blood volume or normal sodium concentration. The mechanism is as follows:
The kidneys stimulate the adrenal glands that secrete the aldosterone. The aldosterone retains sodium and excretes potassium. When sodium is retained, less urine is produced. Consequently, blood volume is increased.
The pituitary gland secretes the vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH) that conserves water.
Deficiency issue of sodium:
Deficiency of sodium may cause many complications. It is a situation known as Hypo-natremia. In this situation sodium and water are out of balance or there’s either high amount of water or low amount of sodium. Normally, the sodium level should be in between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per litre (mEq/L). Deficiency of sodium occurs when sodium level goes below the 135 mEq/L.
Causes of sodium deficiency:
Sodium deficiency may occur due to many reasons. Your body may run short of sodium if too much water and electrolytes are lost from your body. Causes of sodium include:
Severe vomiting or diarrheal condition.
Taking certain medications such as Antidepressants and pain killers.
High water intake during exercise.
Adrenal gland disorders, such as Addison’s disease, in which the regulatory function of adrenal gland for sodium, potassium and water is impaired.
Hypothyroidism that is the low production of thyroxine by thyroid glands.
Primary polydipsia, in which your water intake is more frequent than normal.
The use of caffeine and such other narcotics.
Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH), in which water is retained instead of sodium.
Diabetes Insipidus, in which the vasopressin production is impaired.
Cushing’s syndrome, in which high cortisol levels occur.
Symptoms of low sodium in blood:
Symptoms for low level of sodium are:
Muscle cramps or spasms
Low energy level or;
Sudden drop of blood pressure
If the sodium level decreases or drops down too quickly then a medical condition arises and may lead to seizures, coma and loss of consciousness.
High risk factors of hypo-natremia:
Certain factors increase risk of this condition:
Living in a warmer climate
Taking a low-sodium diet
Having heart failure, kidney disease, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) etc
Use of diuretics
Treatment of low sodium level:
Treatment of low sodium level includes:
Controlling the usage of diuretics (water pills)
Reducing the fluid intake
Taking medicinal treatment for symptoms such as headaches, seizures and nausea
Providing an intravenous sodium solution
The oral infusion of ORS (oral rehydration solution)
By monitoring and treating the underlying conditions
Hypernatremia is a condition that really occurs. This condition occurs when a body has a limited access to water and not functional thirst mechanism. It occurs when the sodium level in serum increased over 145 mEq/L. This condition may cause the following symptoms:
So, in a nut shell sodium is a very important mineral that is essential for regulating your blood volume keeping you away from many complications.