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Kidney Int Suppl. 1998 Feb;64:S6-11.

The treatment of severe hyponatremia.

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Department of Medicine, Universitätsklinikum C.G. Carus, Dresden, Germany.


Severe hyponatremia may be chronic (days) or acute (hours), symptomatic or asymptomatic. Severe chronic symptomatic hyponatremia (serum sodium concentration < 110 to 115 mM/liter) occurs most commonly in the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). The treatment of this hyponatremia is a challenge to practicing physicians, in part because an overly rapid correction of hyponatremia may cause brain damage. The latter sometimes takes the form of central pontine myelinolysis (CPM). On the basis of available clinical and experimental literature, the rate of correction of this symptomatic hyponatremia should be no more than 0.5 mM per liter per hour, and the initial treatment should be halted once a mildly hyponatremic range of the serum sodium concentration has been reached (approximately 125 to 130 mM/liter). In contrast, severe chronic asymptomatic hyponatremia may be treated sufficiently by a fluid restriction. On the other hand, severe symptomatic acute hyponatremia should be treated promptly and rapidly, using hypertonic saline, to initially reach a mildly hyponatremic level.

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