Hypernatremia in the geriatric population
Maulin K Shah,1 Biruh Workeneh,1,2 George E Taffet1,3
1Department of Internal Medicine, 2Department of Nephrology, 3Huffington Center on Aging, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
Abstract: Hypernatremia in the geriatric population is a common disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Older people are predisposed to developing hypernatremia because of age-related physiologic changes such as decreased thirst drive, impaired urinary concentrating ability, and reduced total body water. Medications may exacerbate this predisposition. Hypernatremia and dehydration occurring in nursing homes are considered indicators of neglect that warrant reporting, but there are other nonavoidable causes of hypernatremia, and consideration at time of presentation is essential to prevent delay in diagnosis and management. We describe a case illustrating the importance of the consideration of alternate explanations for hypernatremia in a nursing home resident, followed by a review of hypernatremia in the elderly population, to underscore that neglect is the etiology of exclusion after alternatives have been considered.
Keywords: geriatric, hypernatremia, sodium
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