Hyponatremia: more on treatment
***I wanted to emphasize that this post contains a lot of my non professional opinion. I am not completely ignorant regarding human physiology, but I am not a medical doctor or physiology professor. I do not recommend that my opinion be used as a professional opinion, but please feel free to discuss them with your doctor or other medical professional.*****
At times, it’s hard to figure out exactly how to start the next topic. It’s kind of like when you’re about to enter a lake in which you know the water is icy cold. Do you jump in head first? Do you walk in and try to slowly adjust? Do you just change your mind altogether and wait for warmer water?
I don’t think there’s a right answer.
Writing a blog is kind of like that. It’s hard to know how to approach the next topic. I guess with time, it will become easier.
I really wanted to address how important it is once you’ve developed hyponatremia that the correction be made unbelievably slowly.
Every doctor and every nurse that cared for me in the ICU made this abundantly clear. They all had the same consensus, if we raise your sodium levels too quickly, you can die, go into a coma, develop brain damage.
I have an Aunt who is a doctor, and she emphasized the importance that it be raised slowly. It seemed like it was pretty universal that it was going to take a long time, and if they didn’t do it correctly, I could be universally screwed.
So, how is it that everyone knew how important it was, warned against its rapid correction, but it still happened?
For me, it was a series of errors. I hope these posts prevent anyone from going through the same fate.
However, I have read over the course of weeks that there is a division between some on how the treatment should progress.
There are some that believe once your sodium drops, your life is in danger and corrections need to be made to adjust your levels to a safe zone, slowly but as quickly as possible. In other words, they should raise your levels the maximum amount allowed per every 24 hours.
However, others believe that it is safer to let a person stay in a hyponatremic state, as long as the person isn’t dying. Now, that’s a tricky situation because if your sodium levels are below 135, you risk going into a coma and dying. There’s no guarantee.
The professionals that believe your levels should be maintained at the hyponatremic state, argue that the brain cells are already swollen. If you raise the sodium at this point, it is believed that rapid fluctuations in sodium cause the myelin damage in CPM/EPM, so if you keep it at a hyponatremic state for an extended period (maybe a few days), then the brain cells have time to adjust naturally.Fluid flows out of the cells, and it becomes less of an issue with demyelination when the sodium levels are corrected.
That said, there aren’t studies being done to prove or disprove these ideas. It really is kind of like playing Russian roulette, but there’s no one who wants to risk pulling that trigger with the stakes literally being a person’s life. There’s also not a lot of funding going towards animal studies for this disorder.
My idea (which has absolutely no medical validity): put the person into a medically induced coma, lower their body temperature to hypothermia for several days. Then, slowly raise the sodium, and then their body temperature.
Here’s my reasoning: the body does not respond well to rapid fluctuations of any kind. In patients who have experienced brain trauma, the patients have been placed in medically induced comas and their body temperature has been lowered. This has had success in reducing the amount of brain damage a person experiences.
I believe these principles can be applied to brain damage that is caused by fluctuations in sodium. The body’s system all slow in a hypothermic state. This includes the reactions experienced in the brain. If you raise the sodium levels before returning the body to a normal rate, you might be able to prevent the rapid fluctuations in cells.
My ideas are probably improbable, so I would side with the professionals who recommend keeping a person in a state of hyponatremia for several days before attempting to raise their sodium levels to normal.
In order to do this in a more safe manner, I would recommend placing the person in a medically induced coma vs. hoping the person does fall into a coma because of the hyponatremia.
The studies that have shown a person who has a stabilized blood sodium level (their levels aren’t dropping lower, but aren’t rising steadily), is less likely to develop CPM/EPM.
I think this post might raise more questions than answers, but that tends to happen in medicine. I hope you will be able to make an informed decision on how your care for hyponatremia is managed.
(Addendum: This is extremely important, so I will post it again on a separate page of it’s own. It’s actually been reported in several case studies that there has been a huge success in preventing CPM/EPM, AFTER the sodium levels have been raised too QUICKLY, then the sodium levels should be dropped back to the 120 mmol/L level(hyponatremic state) within 5 days of the rapid increase. This has been shown extremely successful in preventing CPM/EPM. However, it means that you or your caregiver need to be aware of the rises in your sodium levels because your doctor might not admit to incorrectly raising the levels).