What are moderate electrolytes

Too much beer upsets the electrolyte balance

GRAND RAPIDS. Anyone who drinks a case of beer a day does not need solid food to meet their caloric needs. However, such a quantity of beer is not very beneficial for the electrolyte balance: the result can be severe hyponatremia.

Older people with long-term malnutrition are particularly at risk, researchers led by Dr. Lindsey Ouellette of Michigan State University in Grand Rapids (Medicine 2017, online October 26).

The scientists evaluated the medical records of almost 3,000 people over the age of 65 who had gone to the emergency room at two clinics over the course of six years due to problems related to alcoholism.

Extensive laboratory analyzes had been carried out on all of them. Hyponatremia was assumed at values ​​below 135 mmol / l. 4.5 percent of the patients met these criteria. The doctors even found severe hyponatremia (below 125 mmol / l) in 38 patients (1.3 percent); the lowest value was 104 mmol / l.

More than five liters of beer a day

Fifteen of them were found to have a pronounced addiction to beer - they consumed more than five liters of the alcoholic drink every day. The others had hypovolemia, malnutrition, or an inadequate release of antidiuretic hormone.

Eleven of the patients who were addicted to beer showed pronounced physical weakness, eight an altered state of mind, seven gait disorders, six headaches and peripheral edema, in three the doctors observed seizures.

Previous binge drinking episodes and illness with diarrhea and vomiting were typical for the patients. The latter apparently favored a rapid drop in serum sodium levels.

In the addicted patients, these were only 112 mmol / l on average. As a rule, the potassium and urea serum values ​​were also in the basement, as was the plasma osmolarity.

Every sixth person dies as a result

Patients were usually treated with saline solutions, fluid restrictions, diuretics, and occasionally desmopressin. After 48 hours the sodium levels had risen by an average of 13.3 mmol / l, after five days they were in the normal range.

However, Ouellette's doctors plead for careful treatment; a too rapid increase in sodium levels could trigger an osmotic demyelinating syndrome (ODS), which usually only becomes noticeable two to eight days after the start of therapy.

The sodium serum values ​​should rise by around 6–8 mmol / l in the first 24 hours, by 12–14 mmol / l in 48 hours and by 14–16 mmol / l after 72 hours. No ODS was observed in any patient.

Doctors point out that severe hyponatremia resulting from beer addiction is a critical condition. According to the literature, complications occur in more than a third, and around one in six dies as a result.