Purpose of review
The topic of hyponatremia
is in a state of flux. We review a new approach to diagnosis that is superior to previous methods. It simplifies identifying the causes of hyponatremia
, the most important issue being the differentiation of the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) from cerebral/renal salt wasting
(RSW). We also report on the high prevalence of RSW without cerebral disease in the general wards of the hospital.
We applied our new approach to hyponatremia
by utilizing sound pathophysiologic criteria in 62 hyponatremic patients. Seventeen (27%) had SIADH, 19 (31%) had a reset osmostat, 24 (38%) had RSW with 21 having no evidence of cerebral disease, 1 had Addison's disease, and 1 was because of hydrochlorothiazide. Many had urine sodium concentrations (UNa) less than 30 mmol/l.
RSW is much more common than perceived in the general wards of the hospital. It is important to change the terminology from cerebral to RSW and to differentiate SIADH from RSW. These changes will improve clinical outcomes because of divergent therapeutic goals of water-restricting in SIADH and administering salt and water to a dehydrated patient with RSW. The present review will hopefully spur others to reflect and act on the new findings and different approaches to hyponatremia