A 19-year old who drank a quart of soy sauce, nearly died from excess salt in his body.
According to the doctors in Virginia, who reported this case in the June 4th Journal of Emergency Medicine, this is the first person known to have overdosed on salt and survive without any long lasting neurological problems.
College student, John Paul Boldrick was dared by his friends to drink the quart of soy sauce. After consuming it, he began to have seizures and his friends quickly rushed him to the Emergency Room.
When he arrived at the Emergency Room, doctors gave him anti-seizure medication. He was later transferred to the University of Virginia Medical Center where Doctors said he was already in a coma when he arrived.
John Paul Boldrick was put under the care of Dr. David J. Carlberg, who immediately began flushing the salt from the teenager’s body by pumping in sugar water through a tube in his nose.
Within a half hour, Doctors had pumped 1.5 gallons (6 liters) of sugar water into the teen’s body. His sodium levels returned to normal after about five hours.
“He didn’t respond to any of the stimuli that we gave him. He had some clonus, which is just elevated reflexes. It’s a sign that basically the nervous system wasn’t working very well,” Dr. Carlberg explained. “We were more aggressive than had been reported before in terms of bringing his sodium back down to a safer range.”
He remained in a coma for three days, but woke up on his own.
Too much salt in the blood, a condition called hypernatremia, is usually seen in people with psychiatric conditions who develop a strong appetite for the condiment, said Dr. David J. Carlberg.
When there is too much salt in the bloodstream, water moves out of the body tissues and into the blood by the process of osmosis, to try to equalize the salt concentration between the two. As water the leaves the brain, the organ can shrink and bleed, Carlberg said.
A typical quart of soy sauce has more than 0.35 pounds (0.16 kilograms) of salt, the researchers said.
It’s rare in the United States, but consuming excess salt was a traditional method for suicide in ancient China, according to the case report.
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