Sunday, January 29, 2012

Electrolyte Imbalance - Me With Hyponatremia? No way!!

 I mentioned in a previous post that I have been having abdominal pain at the end of the December. It hadn’t subsided and not only that but my dizzy spells have come back. So I finally made an appointment with my doctor last Tuesday. The first thing I noticed upon entering the examination room was that the doctor was now using a laptop to access and document my medical records. Gone was my paper chart. I printed out my symptoms and medications I was taking prior to the visit so I just gave it to him to read. He palpated my abdomen and said he didn’t feel anything unusual, then did the semi-dreaded prostate exam. Afterwards he ordered some lab tests. Before leaving the office, I was given a couple of printouts. The first was about the visit, what the doctor ordered, and a list of my meds. The second had the lab test orders which I took to the lab across the street. Fortunately when I got there the crowd had thinned out. From previous experience, when you don’t have an appointment, you would have to wait awhile before you blood can be drawn. Since it was almost noon, most of the other patients were gone and I was seen in about 15 minutes.
The results were supposed to be out the next day and I had another doctor’s appointment for Thursday. On Wednesday, I was notified by the medical assistant by phone that my sodium level was low, my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were high. The surprising thing was not the cholesterol and blood sugar, it was the low sodium level because I’m such a high salt eater. When I went back to the clinic the next day, I was told to control my cholesterol, eat a little bit more salt, and have another blood test done the following week to check my sodium, a long term blood sugar test called Hgba1c (glycohemoglobin - it tracks sugar level over a length of time), and a stool test for occult blood. By the way, my chloride level was also low so that made both Na and Cl abnormal. More salt in my diet was the answer. The only possible explanations for these abnormalities would be because I take a diuretic for my high blood pressure, or that I’ve been drinking too much fluids. I believe it’s a combination of both because I do drink a lot of fluids during the day so I have to cut down on that plus eat more salt. We shall soon find out after my next blood test. As far as the high cholesterol, I could probably blame all the fatty holiday eating for that. All other tests – CBC, liver function, kidney function, and prostate specific antigen (PSA), were normal.
 I couldn’t believe that I had hyponatremia with all the salty food I eat! No wonder I was feeling sluggish and fatigued the past few weeks. As I write this, I feel slightly better. I still don’t know the source of the abdominal pain and I’m supposed to see the doctor in a month’s time. If the pain isn’t gone by then, he said was would order an ultrasound. In the meantime, I have to watch what I eat so I can get back to normal. I’m talking about the body here because the brain is a lost cause: still crazy after all these years. Frankly, with all my symptoms, I was expecting worse.
A few days ago I had my follow up tests and the doctor’s medical assistant notified me that my sodium level was back to normal, my glycohemoglobin likewise, and there was no blood detected in my poop. That was very reassuring. Now I have to work on getting my cholesterol level back down. There is no cure for my dizziness problems, they just come and go. Here is a link to my dizziness problems from last year: and

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