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Hyponatremia (Low Blood Sodium Level)

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Water and salt (sodium) are both necessary for life. Normally, the body is able to exactly balance the amount of sodium in the bloodstream by either holding on to or letting go of water. There are a number of ways this important balance can be thrown off.

For example, drinking very large quantities of water or being given too much by medical personnel (usually accidentally by intravenous line or during surgery) can cause sodium levels to get too low, causing dangerous consequences. Other common causes of low sodium levels include: hormonal imbalances, medications, heart failure, and cirrhosis or kidney disease.

When the body experiences a rapid drop in sodium, the brain will swell. Depending on the severity of that swelling, symptoms can include nausea and vomiting with progression to headache, lethargy, obtundation, and eventually seizures, coma and respiratory arrest. When low sodium is diagnosed, it is very important that it be corrected at the proper rate under close supervision. If the correction is too fast, the patient can suffer permanent, severe brain damage called central pontine myelinolysis.

Central pontine myelinolysis (CPM) is caused by the destruction of the layer covering nerve cells in the brainstem called the myelin sheath. The destruction of the myelin sheath that coats nerve cells prevents signals from being properly conducted within the nerve, decreasing its ability to communicate with other cells. CPM is both serious and permanent brain damage.

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Injuries caused by a serious mistake by a nurse, hospital or physician, very often result in permanent and catastrophic brain damage. At Biancheria & Maliver, our attorneys' experience with the investigation and proof of both liability and damages in cases of central pontine myelinolysis can help maximize your recovery in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

For a free assessment and evaluation of your claim, contact the Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyers at Biancheria & Maliver. Your case will be reviewed by an attorney who is also a physician.