HEALTH – “Excessive water consumption may be a source of hyponatremia”, curiously warns the Ministry of Solidarity and Health this Monday, July 18 on its social networks. Alongside the risks of dehydration or heatstroke, there is indeed during heat waves the risk of hyponatremia, which is much less well known.
Hyponatraemia is defined as a “decrease in the concentration of sodium (salt) in the blood”. “It is the consequence of an excessive intake of water compared to sodium (salt) or an excess of loss of salt compared to elimination in water”, explains the Ministry. In an article by Health MagazineDoctor Alexandre Decourt specified that hyponatremia takes place when the natremia [taux de sodium dans le sang] had “a value less than 135 mmol/l”.
Who are the people at risk?
“We must, indeed, pay attention to the messages from the public authorities who recommend drinking water regularly without waiting to be thirsty, because these prevention messages are aimed at people in good health, who do not suffer from chronic diseases” , underlined Alexandre Decourt to Health Magazine in July 2020.
Among those at risk, there are indeed patients with chronic diseases -insufficiency kidney, heart failure, cancers, diabetes- and the elderly. As far as the elderly are concerned, the latter cannot “compensate too much water, especially since from a certain age perspiration is altered or even absent”, explains the Ministry.
Several drugs can also promote hyponatremia such as diuretics (often prescribed for high blood pressure, heart or kidney problems) or psychotropic drugs (neuroleptics and antidepressants), adds the Ministry.
What are the symptoms?
Abnormal fatigue, vomiting, recent onset of swelling, or nausea may be signs of hyponatremia, and lead to a serum sodium assay. “The neuropsychiatric symptoms (lethargy, confusional state, convulsions and coma)” appear, for their part, for “severe acute hyponatremia”, specifies the Ministry.
How to protect yourself from it?
This also indicates the recommendations for populations at risk: do not drink more than one and a half liters of water per day in addition to foods already rich in water, maintain a balanced diet to maintain a sufficient salt intake and adapt drug treatments with his doctor.
He also recommends “regularly wet the skin and ventilate it” and “avoid going outside during the hottest hours”.
If severe hyponatremia is still an emergency, The MSD Manual, which reflects the state of medical information in the United States, states that “mild hyponatremia can be treated by decreasing fluid intake to less than 1 liter per day ”. “They [les personnes touchées] do not have to not drink more than 500 ml per day″, estimated Alexandre Decourt at Health Magazine.
See also on The HuffPost: “Heat wave or heat wave, how do you tell the difference?”