Hypernatremia is the Dark Secret Hiding Inside Your Salt Shaker

I hate to be a killjoy, I really do. And I hate being an alarmist even more. Trust me, I know there’s nothing more annoying than that one guy who runs through the office screaming that your sweet ‘n salty candy bar or Slim Jim is killing you.

Beware of that Slim Jim…Source: www.giphy.com
Here’s the thing, though… there IS a hidden danger lurking in the heart of your salt beyond the risk of high blood pressure.
It’s a condition called hypernatremia: Basically, salt poisoning.

It was tragically in the news recently when a woman killed her one-year-old daughter with a teaspoon of salt. It’s simple: Salt absorbs water, which is why you’re so thirsty after snarfing down a bag of potato chips. Too much salt draws out water your cells need for survival—which is why every story of survival at sea or on remote islands involves boiling water to remove its salt content.

The danger of hypernatremia is especially acute among the very young—particularly those who are old enough to be curious about the things they put in their mouth but not old enough to know eating homemade play dough probably isn’t the best idea.

But it’s also a problem among people with metabolic problems and those who deliberately swallow salt water to induce vomiting in an attempt to flush out poisons—a dangerous urban legend which doesn’t actually remove any poisons but does increase the risk of dying.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ve got a death wish if you chomp down a whole stack of Pringles (we’ve all been there). But it is further evidence that there’s a lot of truth in that old adage: All things in moderation.

Ronald Ledsen

Ronald Ledsen

After emigrating from his native Sweden, Ronald spent a stint in the Merchant Marines while trying to work out what he wanted to do with his life. He discovered a love of writing while helping a friend write anonymous Harry Potter fan-fiction online; he discovered meaning to his writing when he began journaling after an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Ronald is most relaxed when spending quiet time with his wife, two sons, and hyperactive cat.

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