High sodium diets are more often linked to high blood pressure than those low in this mineral. While sodium is important to maintaining blood pressure, low levels don’t cause a rise in blood pressure. Instead, you may suffer other complications from too little sodium in the body. These complications are typically isolated to the muscles and brain.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is an abnormal amount of force placed on the arterial walls as blood passes through the blood vessels. The exact cause of the condition isn’t well understood, but certain factors are known to increase your risk. Age, weight and family history can all contribute to this condition, but diets high in sodium can cause you to retain fluids, especially when you’re sensitive to salt. As your retain fluids, your blood pressure tends to rise. This can increase your risk of heart disease, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that you limit your sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg a day, particularly when you’re already dealing with high blood pressure. However, 2,300 mg is considered the highest level of acceptable intake. This is less than the recommended intake of 2,400 mg listed on most packaged goods, so pay close attention to everything you eat when trying to prevent or treat this condition.
When too little sodium is in the body, you may develop hyponatremia. Most people have anywhere from 135 to 145 mEq/L of sodium. If your level were to drop below this range, water moves into your cells, which cause inflammation and brings about nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, irritability, muscle weakness, muscles spasms, unconsciousness and seizures. It doesn’t cause an increase in blood pressure.
Too little sodium in the diet isn’t often the cause of hyponatremia. When diet is concerned, low sodium combined with high water intake can disrupt the sodium balance in your body. More common causes include medications, kidney failure, heart failure, hypothyroidism, cirrhosis, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating and drug use, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you do develop hyponatremia, your doctor will likely treat the cause of the condition as well as recommend cutting back of your fluid intake. You may also need intravenous fluids, hormone therapy or other medications to relieve the signs and symptoms of the condition. Your doctor can determine the best course of care.