Beer potomania

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

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This is a syndrome of binge drinking, poor nutritional intake, and profound hyponatremia.

Pathophysiology & Etiology

Hyponatremia is due to a large consumption of beer (which has a poor salt content) together with a minimal intake of ordinary food. A diet poor in salt and protein compounds (i.e. urea precursors) results in reduced excretion of urinary solutes, which limits the ability to excrete free water


Differential Diagnosis

See the differential of hyponatremia

Electrolyte and Biomarker Studies

A value of Uosm < 100 mOsm/kg is indicative of a complete and appropriate suppression of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) secretion, a finding seen with either primary polydipsia (including ‘beer potomania’) or reset osmostat. Criteria used to diagnose the ‘beer potomania’ syndrome include

  1. A history of binge beer drinking
  2. Poor dietary intake
  3. Decreased serum sodium levels
  4. Absence of other known causes of hyponatremia


The content on this page was first contributed by: Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [3]

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