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mmmm....salty!

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Friday, April 9, 2010

mmmm....salty!

I was asked a question related to the risk of hyponatremia, directly related to a CNN story on the risks of hyponatremia and water intake.  Most of us do not take in the amount of water that we should, so drinking too much water isn't usually an issue, but it is important to know the risks, side effects, treatments, and prevention.  I know that when I do hot power yoga during the summer, I learned my lesson of hyponatremia because I drank a ton of water to replete the fluids lost, but I didn't even think about replacing the electrolytes I lost.  After a gallon of water, an unquenchable thirst, a headache, and a little wooziness, it hit me that I needed a gatorade STAT to replete my sodium, and the problem was fixed!

Hyponatremia is a condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside of your cells which can cause issues with blood pressure, along with nerves and muscles working properly. When the sodium levels outside of your cells drops, the free water in your body fluids moves into the cells and causes them to swell. Most of your bodys cells can appropriately react to this situation, but the cells in your brain can't, which can make this situation really dangerous.  AND, this is the most predominant electrolyte imbalance in the US...I just learned that little factoid today!!

 The possible causes are heavy sweating with poor electrolyte replacement (as noted above- my lesson learned!), burns (because you lose fluids through the open skin), Congestive Heart failure (due to low sodium diets, and the medications used to treat it), Diarrhea/vomiting (due to fluid shifts and intracellular electrolyte shifts), use of diuretics ( medications that make you pee- can cause havoc with electrolytes), Liver and kidney disease (also low sodium diets and the medications/treatments can cause sodium imbalances), and SIADH (Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone- usually a syndrome that affects hospitalized patients in which the posterior pituitary gland excessively releases antidiuretic hormone which can cause fluid overload and hyponatremia). Also, patients with certain cancers (tumors) can cause hyponatremia, to which the treatment is to remove the tumor surgically and the situation usually corrects itself,

Symptoms are a change in mental status (i.e. confusion, fatigue, hallucinations, coma), convulsions, irritability, loss of appetite, muscle cramps/spasms, muscle weakness, nausea, restlessness, vomiting.  OK, so these side effects are also similar to the ones that some of us ladies get when PMS'ing or from a horrible hangover.  So, they are really generic and maybe not noticeable at first,  but acute hyponatremia can lead to death within 48 hours because of the brain swelling.  Which is why I felt that it was an important topic for you guys to know about and keep in mind when (if you do have any of the possible causes) to drink plenty of fluids  like, water and anything with electrolytes- vitawater (zero, 10calorie, full calorie), gatorade/powerade, etc. And, when you can eat, saltines are a great source of sodium, as are most crackers (but that it how my mom always fixed us!!) If you can't keep anything down, call your HCP, or go to an urgent care clinic for IV fluids. They will draw some blood to check for electrolyte abnormalities and treat them appropriately.

It really is better to be safe than sorry, so use common sense, and take in lots of fluids, but if you have any of the side effects, please get in to an HCP and get checked out!

Yours in Good Health

B

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