Too Much Salt (High Sodium Levels)

The most common form of sodium imbalance is a blood sodium level that is too high. Excessive blood sodium levels mean that your body lacks enough water to cope with the amount of sodium it contains.

Contrary to popular belief, the primary cause of high blood sodium levels is not consumption of too much salt, but dehydration (not enough water intake).

Lack of adequate water intake is a very common condition in the United Kingdom due to the fact that most people fail to drink enough water each day, while also eating foods that are high in sodium. Other possible causes of dehydration include diarrhoea; vomiting; fever; excessive sweating (particularly during hot weather); abnormal kidney function; diabetes; head trauma or surgery involving the pituitary gland; imbalanced calcium and/or potassium levels; sickle cell disease, and use of drugs such as corticosteroids or diuretics.

When the amount of sodium in your body becomes too high, your body’s blood volume increases. When this happens extra fluid accumulates in the space surrounding your body’s cells.  Such an accumulation of fluid around your cells can cause a variety of problems.

The most common symptoms of high blood sodium levels are confusion, depression, fatigue, fluid retention, irritability, lack of coordination, muscle cramps or twitching, nausea, restlessness, and general weakness.

Another common symptom of high sodium levels is oedema, which is characterized by swelling of body tissues, especially in the feet and ankles.

More serious symptoms of high sodium levels can include changes in blood pressure and heart rate, coma, seizure, and death.

A check-up by your physician is necessary to determine if you suffer from high blood sodium levels. If you are found to have this problem, then by all means you should avoid eating salty foods. But you should also beware of drinking salty beverages, such as sports drinks. And you should also increase your daily intake of water, especially following exercise or if you are taking medications.

It really is up to you to ensure that you take as best care that you can of the rather marvellous body that you’ve been given. If you’re already doing so, bully for you – perhaps you can share your knowledge with others less in the know.

So be especially careful in this heat, remember to keep hydrated and spread the water word as you’ve gathered around the water cooler.