What is hypernatremia? Hypernatremia occurs when there is an imbalance of sodium and water in your body. The amount of sodium (salt) in your blood is higher than normal. Sodium is an electrolyte (mineral) that helps your muscles, heart, and digestive system work properly. It helps control blood pressure and fluid balance. Hypernatremia can become life-threatening if left untreated.

What may increase my risk for hypernatremia? Your sodium level may increase if you get too much sodium through food, antacids that have sodium, or tube feeding. Hypernatremia may also occur when too much water leaves your body and you become dehydrated. Dehydration can be caused by not drinking enough water or by losing body fluid through excessive sweating or urination. Infants and the elderly are at increased risk of hypernatremia. The following may also increase your risk of hypernatremia:

What are the signs and symptoms of hypernatremia?

How is hypernatremia diagnosed? Your healthcare provider will ask you about the medicines you take and your symptoms. He may also ask about your liquid intake and whether you have had increased urination recently. He will do a physical exam to look for signs of dehydration. You may need also need any of the following:

How is hypernatremia treated? Treatment depends on the cause of your hypernatremia and how severe it is. You will receive liquids by mouth or through an IV to help balance your level of water and sodium. You will also receive treatment for any conditions that caused your hypernatremia.

When should you contact your healthcare provider?

When should you or someone close to you seek immediate care or call 911?


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.