Sodium and potassium imbalance

Students General Students


:confused: hi. i am busy working on a homework assignment and i am confused about one of the patients symptoms. his Na level is 118mEq/L. all of his symptoms fit with either his sodium or potassium imbalance. i am confused about the fact that the nurse noted that he had dry mucous membranes. after wracking my brain and reading various pages in my textbooks, i found that dry mucous membranes goes along with hypernatremia, where this man has hyponatremia. if anyone can help me understand under what circumstances the patient would have dry mucous membranes, i would appreciate it. i am suffering from "first semester work overload and confusion". is there a nursing diagnosis for that? :wink2:


115 Posts

Okay, I am going to take a stab at this and see if I can be of any help. Did the question have any backround on the guy, as to what happened to him to cause this sodium level? Looking at my med-surg book, it does say a s/s of hyponatremia is dry mucous membranes.....has hypernatremia as intense thirst, dry swollen tongue. Maybe he is dehydrated therefore dry mucous membranes?? Not sure if I am making too much sense...LOL...

wv_nurse 2003

153 Posts

I always thought of sodium and water (volume) going together, but:

You can have hyponatremia in any one of three volume states:

hypervolemia: excess volume with "normal" sodium so its diluted (CHF, cirrhosis, renal failure)

hypovolemia (mucous membranes would be dry)--if sodium loss is in excess of volume loss (GI fluid loss, diuretic therapy, adrenal insufficiency, burns, hypotonic dehydration)

euvolemia: if loss of sodium, not volume (SIADH, medications, hypothyroidism)

Hope that helps!

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

If you vomit a lot you lose sodium and become dehydrated.

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