More people may be hospitalized with low sodium levels due to climate change



Climate change and rising temperatures could affect salt levels in the blood. Xvision/Getty Images Sodium is an electrolyte that is essential for a wide range of body functions.

Hyponatremia is a common condition that causes sodium levels in the blood to be lower than normal.

A new study has found that more people become hospitalized due to hyponatremia in temperatures above 15 degrees Celcius.

With climate change expected to increase temperatures across the world, the study predicts that an increase of 2 degrees Celsius could increase cases of hyponatremia by 13.9% The human body needs sodium for various body functions — from conducting nerve impulses to regulating heart rate, digestion, brain activity, and blood pressure.

Hyponatremia is a common electrolyte disorder characterized by low levels of sodium in the blood.

The condition is seen in up to 30% of all hospitalized patients.

A person with mild hyponatremia may have no symptoms but if sodium levels drop too low or too fast, symptoms might include difficulty concentrating, headaches, and nausea. In more severe cases, symptoms can include confusion, seizures, and coma.

Having diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or having underlying heart or liver disease and/or kidney failure can causeTrusted Source hyponatremia. Seasonal changes in temperatures have also been linked to an increase in the prevalence of hyponatremiaTrusted Source in patients attending the emergency department in the summer months.

In a recent study, researchers at the Karolinska Institute quantified the effect of outdoor temperature on the risk of hospitalization with hyponatremia.

A nationwide study

The retrospective study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, included the entire Swedish population over 18 years of age.

The researchers used data from the National Patient Register (NPR) in Sweden to study the incidence rates for hyponatremia at a given outdoor temperature, in increments of 1 degree Celsius. They identified 11,213 patients hospitalized with hyponatremia between October 2005 and December 2014.

The researchers retrieved data on the 24-hour mean temperature of the day when each patient was admitted to hospital from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).

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