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Porphyria Educational Services

Vol. 2 No. 48 December 3, 2000
FOCUS: Hyponatremia and Porphyria

Hyponatremia deals with one part of the electrolyte imbalance which often occurs as a part of acute attacks of porphyria.

Hyponatremia occurs when the body has less than the normal amount of sodium in the blood. Realization of this less than normal range of sodium is determined through a collection of blood from a patient. Most often it is a part of the routine electrolyte panel
which is administered as a patient is admitted to the hospital where they will begin
intervention therapy for the porphyria.

If hyponatremia is left undiagnosed and untreated theporphyria patient will most likely develp water intoxification. In addition the patient will usually present with confuion and lethargy leading to muscle spasms, convulsions and coma.

Laboratory tests to check the ranges of all electrolytes is most essential to be administered to all porphyria patients during acute attacks. Hyponatremia is most notable for its frequency and intensity during acute attacks in over 50% of porphyria patients.

Increase in urinary porphobilinogen, is also often observed.
In addition septic complications, such as pneumonia, septicemia, and urinary tract infection, present in over 50% of acute attacks requiring hospitalization..

Administration of needed electrolytes in conjunction with the necessary administration of carbohydrates will most often correct the sodium levels. It is most important to followup with further electrolyte testing as the porphyria patient begins into remisison.

Karen Simmons, RN, NP
Intensive Care