Last night, I couldn’t sleep. For some reason, I thought thinking about what I would post today would allow me to fall into slumber. Not that I think my posts are boring ;), but I thought concentrating on something I was going to do would soothe me. Ha, I was so wrong!!
Normally, I don’t have a problem falling asleep, but I have a horrible time staying asleep. I wake up about 10 to 13 times a night! Really, I don’t know what the purpose of my trying to sleep is. It doesn’t work. But, in an effort to fix this problem and to relieve my utter exhaustion, I started using Ambien last week.
Anyone who has used Ambien will tell you, its effectiveness doesn’t last long. After a few peaceful nights of only waking 3 or 4 times per night, I feel more rested, but I only get that effect for the first 2 or 3 days. After that, I start waking up more and more again, so I try to use it for short periods. I will use it for a few days, maybe a week and then stop. I know if I keep using it, it won’t do any good at all after two weeks or so, but if I use it, then stop, in a week or so, I can use it again and have it work for a few nights or so. At least, I’ll have a few “good” nights of sleep.
So, last night, I had an Ambien free night, and that led to insomnia, which is a problem that I don’t have very often. I simply could not fall asleep, and when I did, I had horrible dreams along with waking up every 20 to 45 minutes.
Getting back to my point, I thought thinking about my hyponatremia story would soothe me into slumber. Of course, it didn’t. I became so upset with how my treatment was handled, and how I developed EPM because of it that I had to concentrate on not thinking about it.
If I start talking about what happened to me that will be the end of my spreading the word of how to prevent it. I will, at some point in the near future, start discussing what happened to me and how it’s impacted my life. I definitely encourage anyone who is experiencing their own incidence of hyponatremia to post their stories. Please post your story! Post any information you might feel that I have missed because I know I am missing things, which leads me to what I am going to focus on right now.
In my post yesterday, I forgot to mention a few important groups of people that are susceptible to hyponatremia.
I can’t believe I didn’t include this yesterday, but persons who have brain tumors (especially those of the pituitary gland), and those persons who have had brain surgery have an increased chance of developing hyponatremia. (I really can’t believe I forgot this group yesterday because this is the group that I am in!!)
So, the pituitary gland (located in the brain) is the master gland. It produces hormones that control additional hormones through out the body. I don’t want to delve into a tremendous amount of detail about the pituitary gland. The most important thing to know is that it is responsible for the hormone, ADH.
ADH, is one of the hormones that controls the amount of fluid the body holds on to. If ADH is not produced or too little is produced, a person will pee constantly. This leads to an issue known as diabetes insipidus.
Okay, so most people will think…wait, diabetes has to do with blood sugar, and I’ve never had that problem. This isn’t entirely correct.
Diabetes by definition is a metabolic disorder that causes excessive thirst and excessive urination. There are several types of diabetes. The most commonly known type of diabetes is diabetes mellitus.
Mellitus is Latin for sweet. So, diabetes mellitus is translated to mean “Sweet Urine”. This is because doctors used to taste the urine of patients to determine whether or not they had an issue with their pancreas. (Now, you know why they were paid so much money. You would have to pay me A LOT to drink someone’s urine. Just saying.) They knew that the issue was with the pancreas if the urine was sweet because the excess sugar would be dumped from the body through the urine.
The type of diabetes that leads to hyponatremia is usually diabetes inspidus. Insipidus means tasteless in Latin. So a person with diabetes insipidus would produce a large amount of dilute tasteless urine. This issue is most commonly caused by an issue with the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland stops producing the hormone, ADH, so a person releases a large amount of urine.
I hope that all makes sense.
Moving forward, another important group I didn’t mention yesterday, are people who are starting antidepressants. During the first few weeks of starting an antidepressant, a person has a high incidence of developing hyponatremia. I’m guessing since antidepressants impact brain chemistry (usually seratonin uptake inhibitors), in some people it impacts pituitary function as well. This is totally a guess, so don’t quote me on that.
A few additional groups that frequently develop it: persons with AIDS, pneumonia (or severe respiratory issues), and burn victims.
Finally, I mentioned that liver disease increases hyponatremia, but I wanted to specify that cirrhosis of the liver increases your chance of developing hyponatremia.
I think this really emphasizes the point of it’s not a matter of who, but WHEN will you develop hyponatremia, and the seriousness of hyponatremia should be addressed. It’s extremely dangerous. It’s not uncommon and most people have never even heard of it. The more scary part is: if your doctor doesn’t treat it properly, you can die, end up a living vegetable, or with brain damage.
I hope that I can prevent that from happening to someone, and I greatly appreciate if you are reading this that you will help spread the word by posting this information to your Facebook page, or sending the information directly to your friends. You really might save a life!!