Can low sodium levels cause a seizure?

A seizure is triggered by the erratic electrical activity inside the brain. When a seizure occurs, it includes behavioral changes, erratic sensations or movements and alterations in the mental state including confusion as well as loss of consciousness. It is important to note that having low sodium levels is one of the causes why a seizure occurs.

Sodium is a vital element that helps maintain the balance of fluid in the body. Water typically moves to areas that have high concentration of sodium. The concentration of sodium is controlled by various factors including hormones from the brain and kidneys. If the sodium level is low, it is medically known as hyponatremia. Once this occurs, a seizure can occur.

What are the potential causes?

The causes of low sodium levels tend to vary ranging from medical ailments to excessive intake of water. The usual causes include:


An individual with low sodium levels can end up with seizures due to swelling of the brain.

  • Using diuretics or water pills which causes the body to eliminate more sodium in the urine to get rid of excess fluid
  • Excessive intake of water during exercise
  • Hormonal changes such as in syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone (SIADH) which causes significant water retention
  • Dehydration due vomiting and diarrhea

What are the effects of having low sodium levels?

An individual with low sodium levels can end up with seizures due to swelling of the brain. Once the amount of sodium in the blood declines, water moves into the brain which preserves its own amount of sodium to stabilize the amount of fluid and salt. This results to cerebral edema or swelling of the brain.

Take note that the brain could not handle the excess fluid since it is enclosed inside the skull. This limits any changes that might moderate the intake of excess fluid. The excess fluid disrupts the ability of the neurons to transmit electrical signs, thus resulting to a seizure.


The treatment for a seizure brought about by low sodium levels initially includes measures to maintain the airway, breathe on his/her own and preserve proper blood flow to the tissues.

Anti-seizure medications can cease a convulsion, but fixing the original sodium level should be done to prevent the recurrence of a seizure. Correcting the low sodium levels is carried out with the administration of intravenous fluids and strict monitoring of the urine production as well as the brain activity. Limiting the intake of water is oftentimes needed to prevent further influx of fluids into the brain.


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