In healthy individuals, there is a hormone that is released by the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland that tells the kidneys when to hold water and when to get rid of it. This hormone does more than just control urine levels and concentrations. It is also an important part of how blood pressures are regulated. If there isn’t enough hormone in place to tell the kidneys not to retain water or the kidneys aren’t listening to the hormone, then this condition is referred to as diabetes insipidus.
There may be four different types of diabetes insipidus that are known to medical science, but they all have one thing in common: a lack of fluids generally increases overall electrolyte concentrations. One of the most important electrolytes that must remain balanced is sodium.
Why Is Maintaining Sodium Levels So Important?
Sodium, along with phosphate, chloride, calcium, and potassium, are the major electrolytes that the body uses to communicate with itself. These substances help to funnel electrical currents to where they need to go so that the body’s cells know what job needs to get done. This is why certain functions of the body, such as the beating of a heart or the communication that occurs in the central nervous system, are able to function automatically.
When these electrolytes are properly balanced, then the communication levels can be maintained. When sodium gets out of balance, however, then the communication between cells can become interrupted. If sodium levels get too high, then a condition called hypernatremia may occur.
What Are the Symptoms of Excessive Sodium?
The first diagnosis from a medical provider will generally involve diabetes insipidus. The treatment goal is to identify the underlying cause of the condition so that it can be treated. After the diabetes insipidus is confirmed, the high levels of sodium will be evaluated.
High sodium levels in the blood may result in a general feeling of weakness or fatigue. Some people may develop a fever, while others may experience feelings of restlessness or unease. There is usually a heightened level of irritability that is present and there may be difficulties in sleeping.
The symptom of most concern, however, is a severe headache. Some would describe it as a migraine headache, but it is different than most headaches that people experience. This is an indication that dehydration has begun to set in and that fluid intake levels need to be increased. A failure to do so after the headache begins may result in additional health complications, including seizures and a loss of consciousness. Shock may also start.
How To Treat Excessive Sodium From Diabetes Insipidus
The easiest way to treat high levels of sodium in the blood because of diabetes insipidus is to increase fluid intake levels. Most people do not consume enough water on their own with this disorder, which means the body is already slowly dehydrating. If water consumption isn’t enough, a medical provider may considered adding or altering medication therapies to help reduce the severity of the diabetes insipidus.
Treating the underlying condition that is causing the diabetes insipidus can also provide relief from the symptoms of high sodium. Although in up to 30% of cases the cause of diabetes insipidus is not known, there are treatable tumors, injuries to the head, or underlying diseases such as tuberculosis that can cause a reduction in symptoms. For those who had surgically induced diabetes insipidus, the symptoms typically begin to fade as the body begins to heal.
Depending on an individual’s personal medical history, there may also be a recommendation to reduce sodium levels in the diet.
What Is the Outlook of Diabetes Insipidus and Sodium?
Most people can manage this health disorder fairly well with consistent lifestyle choices and appropriate fluid intake levels. With up to 20 liters of urine being produced on some days because of diabetes insipidus, it can be very easy to become severely dehydrated in a short amount of time. Many people underestimate the amount of fluids, typically ice water, that they’ll need to consume on the high urine output days and that leads to the higher sodium levels.
Without control, continued dehydration with high salt levels can damage the kidneys permanently. That is why it is important to seek medical assistance if the signs and symptoms of diabetes insipidus and sodium increases are being experienced. With enough fluids, hormone therapies, and inflammation control with other individualized treatments, this health concern doesn’t have to become a permanent concern.