Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The ART of saying Thank you.

If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped."—Melinda Gates  

Thank those who help you.  Receive thanks by those whom you have helped. And the cycle of gratitude will continue.

One of the joys of working in the healthcare field is that we get to have a real impact on real people and are blessed with the opportunity to make a difference on a daily basis. On the other hand there are many people who have had an impact on us.  Our journey is long and therefore our teachers are many. Our attendings. Our residents. Our nurses. Our patients.  In the era of Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail we are often so busy that the ART of saying "Thank you" has been somewhat lost, despite the fact that it is easier. 

The ART of saying Thank you is taking the time to write a personal note of gratitude to someone that unnecessarily went out of their way to help you (I prefer hand written, but an e-card will suffice). The acknowledgement of their efforts can be best displayed by taking the time out of your own busy day to give them a thoughtful note. With your style and in your own personal way.

Each time I get a Thank you in any form, my decision to pursue a career in medicine is validated. I feel useful. I feel appreciated. I feel valuable. It is in times like these that I can say all the hard work and sleepless nights have payed off.  If we could bring back the dying ART of a simple Thank you, our world would be a better place. A place of kindness, communication, and gratitude.  I hope you will join me and incorporate the ART of saying Thank you into your daily HOSPITALstyle.

xo Kristin

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hyponatremia in Athletes

HYPONATREMIA: The most serious cause of exercise associated collapse

 A potentially fatal condition that can be seen in endurance athletes when their sodium levels drop too low either from hyper-hydration or from dehydration.

Dehydration = a low blood level resulting in low sodium content

Hyper-hydration = diluting the level of sodium

NORMAL 135-145
MILD   131-134
MODERATE  126-130
SEVERE  Less than 126

Too much H2O (water intoxication) can cause a lethal physiologic reaction where water rushes into cells including brain cells. 

Doctors can misdiagnose it as dehydration and mistakenly treat with IV fluids

How it happens:

During high intensity exercise, sodium is lost along with sweat. Athletes can lose up to 2 grams of salt per liter of sweat.  An athlete who only replaces the lost fluid with water will have a decreased blood-sodium concentration. Sodium balance is necessary for transmitting nerve impulses and proper muscle function.   

Consider a full glass of salt-water. If you dump out half of the contents of the glass (as is lost in sweat), and replace that with water only, the sodium concentration of in the glass is far less and the water is more dilute. This can occur in the bloodstream of an athlete who only hydrates with water during excessive sweating. The result is …… HYPONATREMIA

Completed Boston Marathon at age 27
Drank gallon H2O before race
A cup at every drink station
Drank H20 after finishing race despite vomiting
Collapsed in parents home
Air-lifted to a Boston Hospital
Misdiagnosed with Dehydration, Given fluids
Was in a Coma for 4 days before recovering.

Bloated Stomach
Altered Consciousness
Swelling in extremities (fingers and ankles)

Use a sodium containing sports drinks during long distance (more than 60-90 minutes long)
Increase salt intake per day several days prior to competition (except for those with hypertension)
Try not to drink more then you sweat
During a marathon a good rule of thumb is to drink about 1 cup of fluid every 20 minutes
Avoid use of NSAIDS (like ibuprofen) medicines that contain sodium during event.

Do not misdiagnose Acute Hyponatremia as Dehydration and give fluids and cause CEREBRAL EDEMA
Do not use Hypertonic saline in patients that do not have signs of CNS involvement
Do not correct Na greater than 4-6 meq/L and cause central pontine myelinolysis.

When serum sodium concentration falls rapidly
Over 24-48 hours
The compensatory mechanism is overwhelmed which can lead to cerebral edema and brainstem herniation

Develops over more than 48hrs
Experience milder degrees of cerebral edema for a given serum sodium level
Brainstem herniation has not been observed
The causes of morbidity and death are status epilepticus (when chronic hyponatremia reaches levels of 110 mEq/L or less) and central pontine myelinolysis when corrected improperly.

The distinction between ACUTE hyponatremia and CHRONIC hyponatremia has critical differences in proper corrective therapy.

Acute evolution of hyponatremia (as in marathon runners and high endurance athletes) leaves little opportunity for compensatory extrusion of CNS intracellular solutes.

Hypertonic saline (3%) on a rare occasion may be used to rapidly increase serum sodium level in patients with severe acute or chronic hyponatremia if manifested by severe confusion, coma, seizures, or evidence of brainstem herniation
An increase of 4-6 mEq/L over a few hours is sufficient. Further correction is dangerous and must be avoided unless necessary to correct continued seizures or other severe CNS abnormality

Equation for use of Hypertonic Saline.
Required volume = (Na desired - Na current)(TBW) / (Na Fluid- Na Current)