Excessive salt intake

Patient

Q: I chose the category - eating disorder - because maybe it's closest to the issue: I have a 78 yr old female friend of average weight, who consumes so much salt, that I can't even call it "excessive", I have to call it "abusive" because it is so extreme! Not only does she cook with a thunderous shake of the Morton pour spout, she actually takes the cap of the salt shaker and spreads it over the already salt-prepared food!! She also drinks every day - 2 drinks of hard liquor with water, consumes far too much sugar with a continual smorgasbord of homeade deserts and actually consumes man-sized portions of food to the point that she has a daily problem of IBS that she has to take medication for ! But the issue is what are the effects of her excessive salt intake? She does not have high blood pressure - oddly enough, but what is this doing to her organs and capillaries, etc? Any effect, or does she simply have the body chemistry that renders her immune? I'm both baffled and astonished as well as shocked, because I regard it as body abuse! Appreciate your reply

Doctor

A:   If your 78 year old friend has an excess dietary intake of salt, and this does not have any adverse effects on her blood pressure, at her age, I would not be overly concerned. As long as she has an adequate intake of water in addition to the salt, this should not be problematic. We all require salt usually in the form of sodium chloride, for normal bodily functioning. Too much salt or too little salt may be harmful to the body. If your friend’s blood pressure is normal, up to 4 g/day is safe for the typical adult. If your friend has any history of kidney disease, salt intake should be minimized, because if the kidneys are not functioning properly, they cannot excrete the excess dietary salt in the urine.

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