Beer Potomania: A Challenging Case of Hyponatremia

Hind Rafei, Raza Yunus, Parvinder Khurana


Beer potomania is a syndrome of hyponatremia associated with excessive beer drinking. Little or no salt content of beer results in marked reduction in the solute load to the kidney. This leads to impaired water clearance and dilutional hyponatremia. A 66-year-old man with history of alcoholism and alcoholic cardiomyopathy presented to the emergency room with tremors of his upper and lower extremities. He had a significant history of alcohol consumption, usually drinking 4 - 5 cans of beer per night for the past 34 years. In addition, he had consumed a fifth of a vodka bottle the day before presentation. He had a pattern of often skipping meals though was compliant with both his diuretics medications: furosemide 40 mg once daily and spironolactone 25 mg daily. On physical exam, he was euvolemic. Neurological exam revealed resting tremors of both his hands. Labs were remarkable for plasma sodium of 122, brain natriuretic peptide of 474, serum osmolality of 268, urine osmolality of 223, and urine sodium of 20. Patient was assessed to have moderate euvolemic hypotonic hyponatremia. The combination of euvolemic hyponatremia with history of excessive beer drinking made beer potomania very likely. His urine osmolality and urine sodium, however, were higher than expected in beer potomania. These could be explained by the two diuretics that the patient was taking. Patient was managed with fluid restriction, appropriate nutritional and sodium intake and withholding of his diuretics. Plasma sodium slowly corrected to 130 over the course of 3 days. This case illustrates the condition beer potomania, an infrequent cause of hyponatremia. Findings in hyponatremia do not always point in one direction, especially with the concomitant use of diuretics. Recognition of beer potomania is critical as it is associated with serious neurologic sequelae that should be part of counseling against alcohol abuse.

J Endocrinol Metab. 2016;6(4):123-126


Beer potomania; Hyponatremia; Diuretics

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