Anorexia Nervosa

Polydipsia and Hyponatremia in a Woman with Anorexia Nervosa

International Journal of Eating Disorders
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Objective: Hyponatremia is infrequently reported in the constellation of metabolic abnormalities in patients with eating disorders. We sought to identify the etiology and describe the management of a patient with anorexia nervosa and hyponatremia.

Method: We report the case of a 23-year-old woman with anorexia nervosa who suffered with severe hyponatremia.

Results: The etiology of hyponatremia in this case, as in most patients with eating disorders, was multifactorial, encompassing both hypovolemic and euvolemic categories of hyponatremia. Multiple impairments in the ability to clear free water are responsible for a heightened risk for hyponatremia in patients with anorexia nervosa.

Discussion: This case underscores the importance of careful scrutiny of fluid intake, an awareness of medications that lead to hyponatremia, and the need for regular monitoring of serum electrolytes, even in patients with anorexia nervosa, to allow for an early diagnosis and to assist in the formulation of an effective treatment and prevention strategy.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

Center of Excellence Logo