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Ask Dr. Chip Your Own Question
Dr. Chip
Dr. Chip, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 26836
Experience:  Over 20 yrs of Family Practice
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Intense salt craving: what does it mean? I am the only person

Customer Question

Intense salt craving: what does it mean? I am the only person I ever heard of who puts salt on ham, salt on seafood, salt on everything. I eat salt plain. I eat chips and salted nuts just for the salt -- I have been known to lick off the salt and throw the nut or chip away. What does this indicate medically? or am I just a weirdo?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
Have your adrenal gland functions and kidney functions been looked at?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I had a full blood workup 2 years ago, everything looked fine except thyroid slightly off.
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
Well, Addison's disease and a kidney disorder called Bartter syndrome can cause salt cravings, but in your case I don't think this is indicative of a medical problem per se. You just seem to have a somewhat abnormal craving for the taste of salt.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I also consume a LOT of salt. Can that cause health problems, even if there is no medical problem now per se?

 

Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
Sure--hypertension, kidney impairment, possible risk for heart attack.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Any thoughts on where to start? Reduce cravings? Further investigate abnormal cravings? Or just say I have an abnormal taste for salt and do nothing further?
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
What happens if you try not to use the salt shaker?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I eat enormous quantities of food, trying to get more salt. I eat olives, pickles, bacon, chips, crackers... even things I don't like, anything to get the salt. If I try to avoid those, or salt in general, I feel agitated, deprived, a bit insane, edgy, unbalanced, nervous.
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
Have you ever tried alternative salt as in potassium chloride or any other salt substitutes?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No, but what is behind the salt craving, and are substitutes any better? I realize I am being a pain in your ass, but I just want to know if these super-intense salt cravings are reason to seek medical attention and what for, also, have I ruined my health already?
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
Well, I mentioned Addison's and Bartter's so you should be screened for those. Otherwise this is purely a psychological issue. Unless you have had untreated hypertension for some time or your kidney function now is poor, then you haven't yet harmed yourself. At least with the salt substitues like potassium chloride you may satisfy the cravings without the harm from too much sodium ingestion.
Dr. Chip, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 26836
Experience: Over 20 yrs of Family Practice
Dr. Chip and 5 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Another doctor saying it is a "psychological issue." Surely not. There must be biomedical, endocrinological, hormonal or other reasons for my situation.
Expert:  Dr. Chip replied 4 years ago.
Well, I didn't mean a major psychological problem, but I did mention two physical conditions that it would seem, so far, you haven't been screened for. May I ask what more information I can offer you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The answer was:

"

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Expert:  JesJenk replied 4 years ago.
are you still looking for more information?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes...I am not satisfied with the answer that this is psychological (which is what men always say when they dont have the answer).
Expert:  JesJenk replied 4 years ago.
It could be as simple as dehydration. Do you take medications that make you urinate a lot? Some people tend to be chronically dehydrated without even knowing it. Remember this- Salt follows water. Where ever water goes (in the tissues of your body instead of in the veins) the salt will follow. If dehydrations is the reason, salt cravings are your bodies way of holding on to the little water you have.

If you have low serum sodium levels (blood test). This could mean that you are fluid overloaded. Your brain says eat more salt because the water is not in the veins (its in the tissues). This is tricky because you could be putting yourself at risk for heart failure due to fluid overload.

It really is a love hate relationship....
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So what are you saying... that I am dehydrated? Or that I have too much fluid? confused.
Expert:  JesJenk replied 4 years ago.
Could be either of the two. Do you feel thirsty often?