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Forum Name: Hematology Topics

Question: Did they do the right test? (water intoxication)

 tiffairy - Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:32 pm

I overdrank water last night in resonse to thirst occuring with a panic attack. Roughly 2 liters in an hour and more before that, maybe 60 ounces earlier in the night. So maybe 3 liters in all?? Anyway, I went to the ER and they drew blood and told me my sodium was fine. Sent me home.

Then today I went to an ER clinic and they performed test that went through some machine and determined sodium level. They said it was still normal.

However, I just read the diagnosis requires blood serum and isn't this something that you have to manually extract from the blood? Also a few other tests were mentioned that I don't think they ran. Did they do the right test on me?!?!?!
 Theresa Jones, RN - Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:01 am

User avatar Hi tiffairy,
From your description the labwork completed was most likely a test of your electrolytes which includes a sodium level. This test is accurate. A test on urine to determine sodium level is another diagnostic that can be done. I would very strongly advise against you continuing this type of practice during a panic attack. Overconsumption of water which washes out sodium (a critical electrolyte in the body) can not only cause essentially a short circuit in the brain resulting in seizures, confusion/psychosis, and DEATH. I would also encourage you to seek professional care for ways in dealing with your panic attacks that doesn't cause yourself harm. Best wishes.
Theresa Jones, RN
 tiffairy - Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:33 pm

Was the test done last night at around 5:30 pm long enough since the incident the night before at midnight to rule out an effect on my sodium or can there be a delayed reaction?

Also, I wanted to know if my chiari malformation effects the amount of fluid absorbed by my brain?? Could I have gotten fluid on my brain in some other way than the whole sodium thing because I have a chiari malformation???

Thankyou for your response, I do not intend to do such a thing again. Never did it before and I don't know why I did this time but it has certainly scared me enough to remind me not to.
 tiffairy - Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:50 pm

And also why did I read a serum sodium would need to be done and some kind of electrode test?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:08 pm

User avatar Typically the machine that runs the test on the blood is able to separate the serum and measure the sodium level from this. Serum essentially refers to the blood minus the cells. If the machines are set up to give a sodium level, it is the serum sodium level they are reporting.

The time frame you report is adequate to ensure that there are no problems with your sodium. However, as Theresa pointed out, drinking large amounts of water can be dangerous if done rapidly.

Regarding your Chiari malformation, many people have Chiari malformations and don't know it. It tends to be assymptomatic, with the exception of some having headaches. Occasionally there can be more significant symptoms.

Chiari malformation would not affect water crossing into the brain and would not have an effect on producing water intoxication.

Hope this helps.
 tiffairy - Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:07 am

Thankyou, please allow me to ask a few more questions ...

The danger lies in the disturbance of electrolytes, is this correct? So, if my levels were still normal yesterday at 6 then there should be no problem, right? Or should I still be worried? It's been 48 hours now since the incident.

Was the first blood draw (3 hours after) enough to determine if there were any problems or was I right to have it drawn again yesterday afternoon? My husband felt this was excessive and unnecessary.

Exactly how fluid is too much and in what amount of time? I drank a very very large amount and in under an hour not to mention everything else I had that day. Ths is the first time I've ever responded to thirst/stress with drinking so much though and don't plan to do so again. If I had known about the dangers, I obviously would not have done. Also, didn't realize how much I had drank until it was over.
 tiffairy - Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:11 am

Basically, if something was going to happen to me from my over consumption of water, should it have done so by now? (48 hours)
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:29 pm

User avatar At 48 hours out, you are very unlikely to have any problems. By this point, you will have excreted the excess water and your body will have adapted appropriately. There is no need to do further lab testing now-presuming that there are no more excess water intake episodes.

Regarding the need to retest earlier, 3 hours is probably enough time to begin to see effects but if there is concern, a repeat level 6-8 hours later is very reasonable.

In regards to how much is too much, each person has a different level. For some, drinking a half gallon at once can be devastating, others may need closer to a gallon. Unfortunately, one cannot be sure until you've reached your level.

Hope this helps.
 tiffairy - Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:10 pm

Because I drank close to a gallon and they all acted as though I was worried for nothing. I asked my doc to repeat a sodium test today but she refused.
 tiffairy - Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:11 pm

Do you think I should pursue it any further by insisting on a retest? My doc said my headache is just stress and can in no way be related to the water intake since it has now been over 48 hours. Nearly 3 days actually. But I wonder if it could be progressively getting worse.
 tiffairy - Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:59 pm

I'm so sorry, I have one more question also. The second test was run by this clinic and they had they're own machine there that did it in like 5 minutes. And the measurement said something like mmo and the other one in the hospital said meg, are these the same measurements and does it sound like this machine was could be accurat being so fast?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:08 pm

User avatar I would tend to agree with your doctor about not needing to retest at 3 days out. At this point, there is no need for concern.

A gallon of water is a lot, too much for some, but some can drink more than this and be ok. Having said that, I would advise against drinking that much water all at once again.

Technology now is quite remarkable and the office machine is likely quite good. The equipment used in offices is generally tested with controls periodically to ensure that it remains accurate.

Hope this is of assistance to you.
 tiffairy - Sat Jan 27, 2007 9:02 pm

Thanks so much.

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