Epilepsy Talk

Sodium and Seizures | March 10, 2018

You may think that sodium is a “bad guy” to be avoided or reduced at all cost, because too much is linked to high blood pressure.

But sodium is actually an essential electrolyte, and a deficiency can trigger seizures.

Seizures from low sodium levels are most likely to occur from a serious disease, acute infection or because you tried to run a marathon on a hot day.

One-time or isolated seizures from these causes don’t warrant a diagnosis of epilepsy.

However, epilepsy is sometimes misdiagnosed and you may have an underlying health condition that’s causing an electrolyte problem.

Although most epileptic seizures don’t seem to be caused by low levels of sodium, some might be and others may be made worse by lack of the electrolyte.

These electrolytes are essential for conducting electrical messages in your and throughout your body via nerves.

They’re also important for the flow of water into and out of all cells.

Low Sodium Levels

A chronically low level of sodium, negatively affects your brain and can trigger seizures, because it disrupts electrical activity and causes swelling.

It can be caused by severe lack of dietary salt, but it’s more often caused by profuse sweating, chronic diarrhea or excessive vomiting.

Other possible causes of dehydration include fever, abnormal kidney function, diabetes, head trauma or surgery involving the pituitary gland.

Also, imbalanced calcium and/or potassium levels, sickle cell disease, and use of drugs such as corticosteroids or diuretics.

Kidney disease or negative reactions to medications such as diuretics can trigger sodium levels.

And, Trileptal can reduce your blood-sodium levels over time!

So, it’s possible that epilepsy can begin as a condition unrelated to low sodium levels, but later aggravated and triggered by medication.

A sodium level in your blood that is too low is dangerous and can cause seizures and coma.

That’s because a lack of sodium causes your body’s blood volume to decrease.

This, in turn, will lead to a corresponding decrease in your blood pressure level.

Low blood pressure can also cause your heart rate to increase, as well as light headedness and sometimes shock.

Low blood sodium levels can also affect your brain, which is highly sensitive to changes in sodium levels.

Losing sodium quickly is a medical emergency. It can cause stupor, unconsciousness, seizures, coma and even death.

Unless the cause is obvious, a variety of tests are needed to determine if sodium was lost from your urine, diarrhea, or from vomiting.

High Sodium Levels

Very high sodium levels can lead to seizures and death.

Contrary to popular belief, the primary cause of high blood sodium levels is not consumption of too much salt, but dehydration (not enough water intake).

Lack of adequate water intake is a very common condition in the United States because most people don’t drink enough water each day, while also eating foods that are high in sodium.

The most common symptoms of high blood sodium levels are confusion, irritability, depression, fatigue, fluid retention, lack of coordination, muscle cramps or twitching. Also nausea, restlessness, and general weakness.

More serious symptoms of high sodium levels can include changes in blood pressure and heart rate, coma, seizures, and death.

The severity of the symptoms is related to how quickly your high sodium levels developed.

If your levels build up suddenly, your brain cells can’t adapt to their new high sodium environment.

Obviously, the key word here is balance. You don’t want your blood sodium levels to be too high or too low.

As a further precaution, you should have your physician check your blood sodium level as part of your annual physical exam.

Abnormal sodium levels are diagnosed by measuring the concentration of sodium in the blood.

Tests are used to determine hormone problems.

Your diet and use of diuretics must also be considered.

And a low sodium level can be just one manifestation of a variety of disorders.

While it can easily be corrected, the prognosis for the underlying condition that causes it varies.

Intravenous saline in a variety of concentrations may be used to correct the sodium deficit in your body.

The best bet is to go to your physician for a full blood panel.

Only then can you identify the condition and act to rectify it.

The simple step of monitoring your blood sodium level and adjusting your diet can make a big difference in your overall health — both immediately and in the long term.

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  1. Very good & interesting information we all need to know what too much or too little sodium can to to a human brain. Still when you consider that the food flavor enhancer, called MONOSODIUMGLUTAMATE / MSG is AKA as a salt / sodium,, it does as well more than any table salt increase & excite brain cell & neuron activity, as the neurotransmitters as I call it ALL GO CRAZY, when the MSG & other brain chemicals activated, by HIGH OR LOW sodium of any kind will cause seizures & possibly death when a GRAND MALS happens. ASPARTAME is also as bad as any sodium as it can, along with MSG’s are getting to be found in almost ALL FOODS & DRINKS and many of the AED’s & other neurological drugs, that can INCREASE seizure chances by lowering the seizure threshold, by these toxins being in our foods, drinks & drugs we take,, even the O T C drugs & hate to say it TOOTHPASTES. It’s getting to be that NOTHING food related, or drinks, or any health or food by-products from drugs, foods & all related to them, are all a seizure risk to even think about eating, drinking taking or using to better your life. All TV DRUG ADS all say ”’may cause seizures” or If you have are prone to seizures, talk to your doctor 1st before taking ???? that drug. So FDA & doctors all know those chemicals & additives WILL CAUSE SEIZURES,, or it will not be on TV or RADIO ADS telling the public otherwise, and it is not about LIABILITY to protect themselves either. So lets tell it all about sodium & what IS sodium as MSG & ASPARTAME both have the same affect to the human brain as MSG aka SODIUM kills brain cells & neurons when that brain gets saturated by MSG, to where it fires up all neurotransmitters & like a ”bolt of lightning” STRIKES THE BRAIN, but so what,,, MSG’s & processed foods and maybe generic name AED’s might have all caused that. Not important to know that. Right ? Time to tell the TRUTH ABOUT IT ALL,, not just what some people will or will not accept to be truth or propaganda, as MSG & ASPARTAME causing any brain condition is FACT & REALITY, because it happens to many of us,, and WE get ignored from neurologists, & the drug makers,, & everyone else who believes they all walk on water and or float in the sky. My feet are always grounded to REALITY & I do not believe all the false promises that prove nothing to ever stop seizures for me or anyone else. Follow the money,, and ask WHY did I have to have my heart monitored as I knew my HEART was no problem causing my seizures but I really could not prove that. So after the 31 day monitoring,, driving away from my home almost every day to a near by cell phone tower to send to the monitors device to pick up a signal for the doctor to read what my heart was doing that can cause a seizure/s,, after 31 days & over $6,000.00 for that test,,, NOTHING was proven my heart was ever a problem where my seizures happened because of abnormal heart activity. Like I did not say that, but what I do ask about & concern over,, goes in 1 ear & out the other, because it is not much MONEY for those tests I am talking about. No return visits for VNS or BNS adjustments, plus other side affects to be treated for from those 2 devices. So WHO cares what we all are victims of, when we have neurologists that care more about future office visits & MONEY, more than ending our seizures for life ? I still am waiting for SOMEONE to tell me the truth just HOW CBD oils can help a brain over 50 years old with seizures, and abnormal chemical balances in it, & how it can make all that brain chemistry NORMAL so whatever I eat or drink or take for a drug & etc… for whatever does not cause a seizure later after having that. Nope,, I never get any answers to that, because that is MY LIFE and many other people do not have that problem. Says WHO ? when most people are never educated enough to know if they could or do have that problem. As I say and it is for anyone,,, THE BRAIN NEVER LIES. You just need to know how you listen to it, and then as other times,, THE BRAIN NEVER LIES, Just to say this,, It is more than just A CONSCIOUS SPEAKING TO YOU. It’s like your brain is LOUDLY & CLEARLY TELLING YOU WHAT IS OR HAS HAPPENED TO IT. At any age the brain can do that, because it did that for me when I was 5 years old, when NOBODY THEN listened to me. And after 52 years later, there’s still a lot of deaf and arrogant people in the world who just don’t care. FOLLOW THE MONEY. < KJV BIBLE, then it is easier to read other things to think about.


    Comment by C D — March 10, 2018 @ 11:26 AM

    • MSG can be responsible for long term neurological damage.

      It’s been linked to diabetes, stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, stomach disorders, fatigue, depression, headaches and migraines, grand mal seizures, irregular or rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, numbness in the fingertips, autism, ADHD,  asthma-like symptoms, fibromyalgia type pain, disorientation and confusion, and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

      Don’t be fooled by the term “free glutamate”…

      Some foods advertise “No MSG”, or “No added MSG”, but actually, they contain large amounts of a hidden MSG derivative, called “free glutamate”. 

      Many people experience adverse reactions but are not aware that the cause may be exposure to this substance, free glutamate, which is created in manufacturing processes.

      When any product contains at least 79% free glutamic acid it must be called MSG.

      Quantities of less than this amount, do not fall under MSG labeling restrictions, and can be called any number of innocent sounding names, such as “natural flavoring”.

      In larger quantities, free glutamate is toxic to everyone, but for those who cannot metabolize it effectively, even very small doses can act like a poison.

      MSG stimulates or damages glutamate receptors, making them more sensitive to subsequent ingestion of MSG.

      Science suggests that free glutamates may act as a “slow neurotoxin” with damage, such as dementia, only becoming apparent years later.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 12:27 PM

  2. We usually prepare food with no salt. But, when I get to the table, I add on a little salt.
    PLEASE get patients OFF of ALL Seizure Drugs, other than the OLD Phenobarbital, which they use for Babies. My whole life (69 yrs old), I have used Dilantin (takes your teeth), Depakote (takes organs), Keppra and others with terrible side effects. I am on Phenobarbital, and still protect my Liver and Kidneys with Milk Thistle and Kidney Bladder. Doing Great and will Keep All My Organs. I had cysts and got on Curcumin, which is good for the brain 🧠.


    Comment by Rita McDonald — March 10, 2018 @ 11:33 AM

    • What a great idea.

      Thanks for your insights, Rita.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 12:28 PM

      • So true Rita, as the new drugs which are to be so better, always seems to come with more side affects, which seems to lead to other neurological conditions later, when you’ve been on AED’s all your life. GLUTAMIC ACID is another danger people need to be careful with. MSG & other names for it same with ASPARTAME, they are so many that a word like MALTODEXTRIN that is used for both MSG & ASPARTAME, has its own type of dangers to it where used for either MSG & ASPARTAME. OTC & prescription drugs have it in them as well, & toothpaste too.


        Comment by CD — January 14, 2019 @ 11:59 AM

      • Have you ever heard of Spry toothpaste? Much better than the nasty ones with sodium and all kinds of junk in them.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 14, 2019 @ 12:20 PM

  3. I have chronic low sodium levels. My neurologist has me on very restrictive fluids. I’m only drinking 6, 8 ounce drinks a day. This is including coffee and tea.
    I have a very hard time achieving this, plus I’m gaining weight…..
    Anyone else doing this?


    Comment by Eve Quigley — March 10, 2018 @ 11:43 AM

    • Why are you gaining weight?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 12:29 PM

      • It might be depression?


        Comment by Eve Quigley — March 10, 2018 @ 3:00 PM

      • Depression is responsible for so many things….

        Some people eat when they’re depressed, some don’t eat at all. (Me.)

        And since at least one in every eight people with epilepsy also has depression, that could be your answer. 😦


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 3:06 PM

    • Thank you Phylis for having this forum. I too find the seizures that happen when I am fully aware terrifying. Those are much more frequent these days, and I know they are contributing to my depression.
      I have recently had my keppra levels increased to 750 mgs. in the morning, along with 600 mgs. of carbemazepine
      Then evening dose is 500 mgs. keppra, along with 600 mgs. carbemazepine.
      Does anyone out there know what this all means? Am I on a normal dose? low dose? high dose?
      I never remember to ask these questions of my neurolorgist. I always say I’m fine when I’m there.


      Comment by Eve Quigley — March 10, 2018 @ 5:57 PM

      • I wish I could give you an answer Eve, but everybody’s chemistry is individual and everyone metabolizes meds differently. 😦

        But when you DO go to the neurologist, write down a list of questions beforehand (most important at the top, less important at the bottom — in case he/she runs out of time) and don’t leave until they’re answered to your satisfaction.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 6:25 PM

    • Just eliminate ALL FOODS & DRINKS with MSG’s & ASPARTAME’s in them. What you will find is 1- Less money spent on foods & drinks, especially if you drink water. 2- You will eat less foods & feel more full when you have a normal serving of that food/s. 3- You will see weight loss & actually feel a difference mentally because the MSG’s & ASPARTAME’s are not invading the hunger cells of the brain screaming for MORE FOOD. 4- You’ll have more energy. 5- You’ll spend less time in the food stores, & have MORE money in your pocket, with less time staying there. 6. Almost forgot LESS OR NO SEIZURES !!! which is more important that those other 5 things happen & get done. NO neurologist will give any of us a list like this. I suggest anyone that reads this write this all down & hand it to your neurologist, & see if he or she keeps you as a patient. 1st thing they will say THAT WILL NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE & PROBABLY NOT YOU EITHER. They will will not say I DON’T MAKE MONEY BY YOU DOING THOSE THINGS. Forgot #7. Less time with neurologists maybe if YOU can control seizures this way.


      Comment by CD — January 14, 2019 @ 12:10 PM

  4. What blood tests do our suggest to ch Co the cause of low sodium levels? Our son was ex with E at age 7 and took Trileptal for 10 years but it begin to affect his sodium levels. One of his Drs Sr he had low potassium too and actually recommended a kidney evaluation. But But the neuro switched him to Dilantin which has worked well. I would still like to have an evaluate from a kidney Dr. But what tests should I ask for?
    Thank you


    Comment by Tami — March 10, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

    • A blood sample drawn from a vein in the arm or, in some cases, a urine sample is suggested.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 12:33 PM

      • I meant what is the name of the test? What are they trying to measure. Creatine levels or something else?
        Thank you,


        Comment by Tami — March 11, 2018 @ 9:12 PM

  5. This website gives me so much confidence to make the decisions myself and my body need to stay seizure free. It also helps me plan for problems and concerns every person with a disability could face in a lifetime.

    I’m currently in the midst of titrating off of Trileptal. This information is rare in the medical community and the first time I’ve read about Trileptal and electrolytes. Sometimes seizures are beyond meets the eye but sometimes it’s that obvious.

    Thank you!


    Comment by Andrew Plant — March 10, 2018 @ 12:49 PM

    • It’s the ones that are “beyond what meets the eye” which are so scary.

      Especially when your neuro doesn’t understand them either.

      We are truly the ones who know our bodies best and ultimately are our own advocates.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2018 @ 2:54 PM

  6. Around 15 years ago I was driving with my girls to my grandparents house on the other side of town. I had a blank seizure came out of it didn’t know what happened drop off my girls at their grandma and grandpas house and took off down the block. A little while later came back to the house and was so confused, anxious, loud yelling just wanted to see my girls. They were so scared and crying. I went to the ER took all the test needed everything was ok. They said I needed to go see a Neurologist. I went to go see one said I had a seizure. From that day he put me on Tegretol. Years went by feeling great. 7 years or so later I had a grand mal seizure. Due to low sodium in my body. Due cause of that medication. Now I’m on Briviact a new med. that just came out a couple years ago. I have these episodes going in la la land my family thinks I’m having one. Not sure what to do because is this really considered seizures. I don’t fall to the ground. I just have a blank stare on my face and then sometimes I’ll have a smile on my face. Snap out of it and can come right back into the conversation. What do I need to do to get back to normal so my sodium level is at its normal ranges…. Does Aspartame have anything to do with sodium in this case. I need or crave one soda a day. Is this bad for me? What do I need to do to be back to normal. I don’t have these episodes on a daily or monthly basis. I’ve gone years without having one. Then maybe 2 the year later. Personally, I feel it’s the Tegretol that messed me up plus the stress in my life. Everyone’s body react differently to stress. Any Recommendations or things I can do…


    Comment by Teresa Hansen — March 10, 2018 @ 2:15 PM

  7. I’ve read through the comment boards and blogs and have learned alot about how food can affect Epilepsy. I read food labels now and even the so called “healthy” ones with no HFCS, will still have MSG listed in the ingredients. MSG is nearly in everything. Organic food items at the supermarket are too expensive, for me. I am on lamotrigene 600mg daily, extended release which I think is beginning to be too much for me. What other things can help control seizures? I am seriously thinking about smoking weed, or trying that cannabiolis oil, but I need to talk to more Epileptics about it. Is there anyway to neutralize the effects of MSG or get around it?


    Comment by Angela J Marshick — March 11, 2018 @ 2:19 PM

    • The average American now consumes 1.92 pounds of MSG each year.

      According to Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”, “…excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, episodic violence, specific types of obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases.”

      Hidden names and sources of MSG…

      MSG is hidden in more foods and ingredients than you’d ever dream of.  Here are some examples:

      “Enriched”, fermented,  protein fortified, ultra pasteurized, broth, bouillon, caramel flavoring, corn syrup, cornstarch, dry milk solids, natural flavoring, gelatin, gums, malt extract, milk powder, modified food starch, potassium glutamate, seasonings, soy protein, soy sauce or extract, stock, vitamin “enriched,” whey protein, yeast extract and yeast nutrients.

      I would suggest one of the anti epilepsy diets which might help.

      Three Anti-Seizure Diets That Could Change Your Life…


      (For me, the Modified Atkins Diet is the most user-friendly.)

      The Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) for Seizures



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 11, 2018 @ 2:27 PM

  8. Tami, a sodium blood test is a test that allows your doctor to see how much sodium is in your blood. It’s also called a serum sodium test.

    The sodium blood test is often part of a basic metabolic panel. This is a group of related tests. The basic metabolic panel includes tests for:

    blood urea nitrogen


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 12, 2018 @ 9:50 AM

  9. My new email address is garrydcarrier@ gmail.com

    Sent from my iPhone



    Comment by garrycarrier@dccnet.com — March 13, 2018 @ 12:49 PM

  10. diet sounds like a good way to reduce problems , but being a diabetic, you have to be sure to get enough carbohydrates every meal (type 2 diabetes)-like ‘solve one problem and end up with another one’


    Comment by Karen — March 13, 2018 @ 10:53 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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