Sodium is a very important component within your body. Its presence helps to regulate blood pressure levels. It also supports muscles, the central nervous system, and works to help support a healthy fluid balance. When someone is suffering from diabetes insipidus, one of the key indicators is that sodium levels within the blood will not be within normal values.
When sodium levels are too high, then this condition is called hypernatremia. If sodium levels are too low, then this condition is called hyponatremia. Although all laboratories have their own set of values they consider normal, healthy individuals typically have sodium levels that are 135-145 milliequivalents per liter [mEq/L]. Values above or below this normal level may lead to a sodium imbalance diagnosis.
What Are the Symptoms of High Sodium Levels?
The primary symptom people have when sodium levels are too high in their blood is thirst. They may feel thirsty even if they have recently consumed a high level of fluids recently. This is because dehydration can be caused by more than just not drinking enough fluids. Diarrhea, diuretics, and kidney dysfunction as seen in diabetes insipidus can all be contributing factors.
When sodium levels are too high, then some individuals may also experience ongoing muscle twitches that may be involuntary. They may also experience confusion. In severe instances, seizures have also been known to occur when sodium levels are persistently high.
When the high sodium levels are because of the presence of diabetes insipidus, then there will be large amounts of urine that are passed during the day. People with this health condition have been known to pass up to 6 gallons of urine, or 20 liters, in a single day.
To determine these results, a medical provider will need to order a blood test.
The Importance of Symptom Recognition
Infants and older adults with dementia are particularly at risk of developing hypernatremia. For infants, the condition is often inherited and symptoms will begin to appear almost immediately after birth. Since thirst is not communicated well by infants, vomiting and seizures may occur because of their dehydration. With fast recognition, infants can be effectively treated for diabetes insipidus and have normal growth patterns.
For older adults with dementia, they too may struggle to communicate thirst. Some individuals may not be able to cognitively recognize that they are thirsty. Watching for the symptoms of dehydration, along with the other issues of high sodium, can help these individuals get the help they need.
How Is This Condition Treated with Diabetes Insipidus?
The diagnosis of hypernatremia, based on the blood test results, is treated by replacing lost fluids in the body. This is often done through the use of dilute fluids that contain water and specific amounts of sodium so that the overall levels can be brought down slowly. If there is a severe drop of sodium levels in the blood, then brain damage can possibly result.
Once the immediate danger has been resolved, medical providers will begin to look at controlling the cause of the high sodium levels. In diabetes insipidus, this means discovering whether the pituitary gland is not producing enough ADH to tell the kidneys to retain fluids or if the kidneys aren’t responding to the anti-diuretic hormone.
In central diabetes insipidus, medications to stimulate hormone production and the introduction of hormone injections or nasal sprays can often relieve the high sodium levels. For patients with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, the treatment plan developed may need to address multiple factors to correct the situation.
Common Methods of Treating Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus
The primary concern with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is dehydration. Because this condition is often hereditary, the feelings of excessive thirst, accompanied by large amounts of excrete urine, are not just going to go away. Medical providers will recommend drinking increased amounts of water to create ongoing sodium stability.
With nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, going several hours without any fluids can lead to serious dehydration.
This is often combined with other sodium restrictions. Many people will have a salt restriction added to their eating habits as part of their treatment plan. A diet that is also low in protein may also help with hypernatremia. Sometimes certain drugs may also be recommended to help reduce the amount of urine that is excreted every day.
High sodium levels must be treated immediately to prevent future health concerns. Diabetes insipidus is not just going to go away on its own. Use this guide to speak about any health concerns you may have with your medical provider so you can receive the treatment you may need.