Sodium Chloride – Oral

Sodium chloride is an electrolyte replenisher that is used to prevent heat cramps caused by excessive sweating.

Overview

Sodium chloride is the chemical name for salt. It can reduce certain types of bacteria in the body and is used to help produce sputum from the mouth to improve lung function. It is also used for many other medicinal purposes.

It is often used to replenish electrolytes which are vital for humans to survive. Electrolytes are needed for several different bodily functions – most automatic processes in the body require an electric current, and electrolytes provide these charges. These electrolytes interact with one another as well as with cells in the nerves, muscles, and tissues. A balance of different types of electrolytes is important for the body to function healthily. Older adults, in particular, are at risk of electrolyte imbalance.

Sodium chloride can be used to treat dehydration in patients suffering from gastroenteritis or diarrhea, as well as replenishing minerals in athletes before and after training sessions. It is currently listed by the World Health Organization as an essential medicine and is one of the cheapest drugs in the world to produce.

Sodium chloride has been used medicinally for hundreds of years to replenish vital salts, support regular bowel movements and to relieve joint pain and muscle tension associated with cramps. In the US, sodium chloride used for the replenishment of electrolytes is often combined with a variety of different minerals and vitamins and marketed as Kruschen Salts, as a tablet which is dissolved in water to create an isotonic solution.

Conditions Treated

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Diahrrea
  • Gastroenteritis

Type of Medicine

  • Electrolyte replenisher

 

Side effects

Along with its required effects, sodium chloride can also cause certain unwanted side effects. The most common effects reported by patients undergoing treatment with this medication include the following: fever, fast heartbeat, hoarseness, itching, irritation, redness of the skin, joint pain or swelling, shortness of breath, swelling of the extremities, tightness in the chest, difficulty swallowing or breathing.

As the patient continues to take this medication as prescribed, some or all of the aforementioned side effects may lessen. If side effects persist or get worse over time, the patient is advised to inform their doctor as soon as possible. A doctor or healthcare professional may be able to advise a patient on how to alleviate uncomfortable side effects with natural or over the counter medicines.

Dosage

As with all medicines, it is incredibly important for patients to only take sodium chloride as prescribed by a qualified physician. This means that patients should not take any more of the drug than advised, either in dose size or frequency of dose. In addition to this, patients should stop taking sodium chloride as a medicine when advised to do so by a doctor, even if they have a supply of the medicine remaining. However, it is important for patients to understand the following: because sodium chloride is such an essential element in human life, all foods contain it and it is needed by the body - therefore, patients will always be in receipt of sodium chloride in one shape or form. Those who already receive sufficient sodium chloride from their diet may be advised against taking this medicine in tablet form.

Medicinal sodium chloride is available over the counter, and the manufacturers provide general dosage instructions. However, it should be reiterated that these recommendations can be altered by a doctor or healthcare professional based on numerous factors including the size, weight, and age of the patient.

Sodium chloride tablets generally contain 0.4g of the active ingredient, along with trace amounts of other essential minerals. A tablet should be taken once a day to replenish electrolytes to alleviate cramps caused by excess sweating.

Two tablets should be taken twice a day to alleviate symptoms associated with constipation, rheumatism, sluggish liver, dizziness, headache and/or indigestion. The patient should gradually reduce the dosage as they begin to obtain relief.

There are no recommended doses of medicinal sodium chloride (Kruschen salts) for children. However, FDA guidelines suggest that children between the ages of one and three should not consume more than 2g of sodium chloride in total. Children between three and six years of age should not consume more than 3g of sodium chloride per day. Children between seven and 10 years of age should consume no more than 5g sodium chloride per day. Adults should not consume more than 6g of sodium chloride per day.

Patients are warned against taking more than the recommended dose of sodium chloride. If a patient misses a dose, they should simply wait until it is time to administer the next dose and continue treatment as normal.

The patient may have overdosed if they experience any of the following symptoms: swollen tongue, nausea, abdominal cramps, thirst, weakness, convulsions, muscle tremors and/or vomiting. If left untreated, sodium chloride overdose can lead to cerebral edema, cardiac failure, and respiratory arrest. It is therefore vital for a patient who has overdosed on this compound to immediately contact their local poison control center on 1800-222-1222 or emergency services on 911.

Interactions

All drugs have the potential to interact with other medicines or chemicals within the human body. In some instances, this can cause a medicine to become ineffective. In other circumstances, these interactions can cause potentially serious side effects to occur. Because of this, patients are advised to keep a full and detailed list of all medicines they are currently undergoing treatment with. This extends to herbal supplements, complementary medicines, vitamins and over-the-counter remedies.

Below is a partial list of medicines known to interact negatively with sodium chloride. Patients who are currently taking any of these medications should inform their doctor prior to beginning treatment with sodium chloride tablets:

  • Eskalith
  • Lithium
  • Lithonate
  • Tithotabs
  • Lithium Carbonate
  • Lithobib
  • Tolvaptan

Warnings

This medicine may not be suitable for patients suffering from certain conditions. Patients who have been diagnosed with the following should consult with their doctor or healthcare provider prior to using this medicine:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Asthma
  • Edema (swelling)

In addition to this, patients who have recently had surgery or are on a low-sodium diet as a direction of their physician should exercise caution when using sodium chloride.

Patients who have ever had an allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicine should inform their doctor prior to treatment with sodium chloride. Doctors should also be made aware if the patient has any other types of allergies (dyes, foods, preservatives, or animals for example) as this medication could contain trace amounts of certain allergens.

Excess alcohol and coffee should be avoided when undergoing treatment with sodium chloride. This is because both substances act as diuretics and combining them with sodium chloride can result in dehydration.

Sodium chloride, when taken at standard treatment levels, poses little or no risk to pregnant mothers. However, women who are pregnant or are intending to become pregnant in the near future should consult with their doctor prior to using this medication. Sodium chloride poses minimal risk to infants who may receive the compound via breastmilk.

Storage

Sodium chloride should be stored in a closed container at room temperature. The manufacturer recommends that this medicine is kept away from heat and moisture – as such, it is not suitable for storage in a bathroom cabinet. Instead, it should be kept out of the reach of children and pets in a dedicated medicine cabinet if possible.

Medicines that are past their sell-by date or are no longer needed should be disposed of in a safe and hygienic manner. Patients are advised to consult a healthcare professional, pharmacy or waste disposal organization for advice on how to properly dispose of unwanted medicines. Some pharmacies may offer takeback schemes where they will accept and dispose of unused medications free of charge.

Summary

Sodium chloride is an essential mineral and is required for humans to survive. Treatment with sodium chloride is often required to replenish electrolytes lost through exercise or excess sweating. It is typically available over the counter in tablet form. These tablets can be combined with water to create an isotonic solution which is fast acting and helps relieve heat cramps associated with electrolyte loss.

When taken correctly, this medication can provide the relief of unpleasant symptoms of cramp, allowing the patient to live a more fulfilling life. However, sodium chloride is not without its risks, as excess consumption can lead to serious and even fatal short and long-term conditions. To get the most out of this medicine, patient and doctor must work together in order to ascertain whether it is safe to take sodium chloride and whether any potentially harmful interactions could occur as a result of administering the compound.

In some instances, a doctor may recommend a reduced dose, particularly in patients suffering from congenital heart conditions or high blood pressure. Patients should always take the advice of qualified health professionals before self-administering sodium chloride or any other medication.

 

Resources
Last Reviewed:
January 31, 2018
Last Updated:
February 10, 2018