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Ate too much salty food all at once (a large quantity of…

Ate too much salty food...
Ate too much salty food all at once (a large quantity of sodium) and developed headache and some tingling in the fingertips 20 minutes later, what does this mean?
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Answered in 11 minutes by:
3/13/2018
Dr. A
Dr. A, Board Certified MD
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Salt (sodium) is a necessary electrolyte for nerve conduction. Your tingling may be due to the increased salt within your body and some abnormal nerve conduction as a result of that.

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The most important thing for you to do if you consumed a lot of salt is to drink A LOT of water to help dilute it. Otherwise, if the tingling is persistent or you begin to have vomiting or swelling in your legs you should see a doctor. Hope that is helpful.

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Please let me know if you have other questions. I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me a 5-star rating. We can continue to speak even after you rate if you would like. Thanks!

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you - I have requested "In Depth" answer, though, could you elaborate more?I have drunk 2 cups of water since this began, along with a small bottle of watermelon juice (which contains some potassium.)Is there a danger of hypernatremia, and also brain damage?What happened was that I ate most of a large, salty pizza all by myself.If there was abnormal nerve conduit, does it go away, or is it permanent damage to the nerves?What exactly causes the headache pain when I consumed too much salt?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
If I do not drink enough water, will that result in permanent brain issues?And if I DO drink a lot of water, might that cause cerebral edema? It sounds dangerous either way.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Right now my whole body feels weak and tingly, but especially the arms.

Hypernatremia is almost never caused by too much salt intake as long as you are also taking in water at the same time. It is usually in very old patients who eat and then cannot access water because they are not mobile. It can also happen if you are taking too much of a diuretic or if you are a severe diabetic.

I have taken care of many patients in the neurosurgical ICU and I can tell you that I have never seen anyone with hypernatremia due to high salt intake. There is usually some other underlying medical issue or medication that causes it. None of this will be permanent as long as you stay hydrated.

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Headache is non-specific and likely not related to the high salt intake. The first signs are usually an altered mental status, diarrhea and vomiting.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
OK, thanks. Would continuing to drink watermlon juice (which contains potassium) help get rid of the excess sodium? I still have some in the fridge.Also, I know you said this was unlikely to lead to hypernatraemia (due to excess sodium intake,) but suppose someone DID get hypernatremia this way - how severe would the hypernatraemia have to be before it could cause permanent brain damage?I am 100% sure the headache is related to salt. It has happened before. I will feel perfeclty fine, and then eat a lot of salt, and then within 5 minutes I have a bad headache. That is exactly what happened tonight.

Yes, I think the watermelon juice is a good idea. Water is also fine.

In terms of the hypernatremia, from a numbers standpoint the normal sodium level is 140 mEq/L. Once the sodium gets up near 150-155 that is when we begin to get concerned about high levels. Even then, we essentially give water through the IV to help counteract it. Hope that helps.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
OK, but the difference between 140 mQa/l and 150 sounds very slight. Sounds like the body could easily shoot past that level with a big jump if one were to eat a large amount of sodium in one sitting.If one's blood salt did surpass that 150 level, then what exactly would it do to the brain? Shrivel the brain cells of water?Does vomiting occur before, or after, 150?Also, Wikipedia says " overly rapid correction of hypernatremia is potentially very dangerous. The body (in particular the brain) adapts to the higher sodium concentration. Rapidly lowering the sodium concentration with free water, once this adaptation has occurred, causes water to flow into brain cells and causes them to swell. This can lead to cerebral edema, potentially resulting in seizures, permanent brain damage, or death. Therefore, significant hypernatremia should be treated carefully by a physician"Should I be careful about water intake? Only sipping half a cup every half hour, or something?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Finally, i am still worried about the arm and body tingling feeling.

The difference to 150 is actually quite a bit and there are often people in the hospital with sodium at 150 and doing fine. Vomiting and altered mental status usually occur after 150.

Yes, essentially with significant hypernatremia the brain cells essentially shrink and you lose some brain volume.

To be honest, even with ingestion of a large pizza I don't think your sodium is higher than 142-143 if you are otherwise healthy and drinking sufficiently. However, you can drink at the rate you said to be safe. The body tingling will likely get better as you drink more. If it becomes worse or if you begin to have diarrhea or vomiting I would see a doctor to check your lab levels.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
OK, thanks. Does potassium drive sodium out of the body? Is there a danger in having too much potassium + sodium in the body all at once?As for the brain shrinkage caused by too much sodium - does the brain stay shrunken or does it return to normal? Can it heal from damage caused by hypernatraemia?

Yes, you are correct; potassium will help to drive out sodium. There is not a danger of having too much of both all at once.

If hypernatremia is present for too long and the brain shrinkage is left to be for too long then there is a risk for it to be permanent. However, you will have many signs before the brain shrinkage even starts such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and altered mental status.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
OK thanks! So, essentially, it is almost impossible to have brain damage without there first being the precursor symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea etc.? Even mild brain damage?I am still having the "heavy, weak, tingly and a bit numb" feeling in my body, but I hope that is still weak enough that it's not at brain-damage level yet.

Yes, that is correct.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Will exercise and sweat eliminate sodium faster

You tend to lose more water than sodium when exercising so I would not do that right now.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Ok

How are you feeling now? Would appreciate a positive rating for my time and service when you get a chance. Thanks.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
still have a bit of lingering headache despite drinking water

OK. If you had concerning hypernatremia you would have already had more serious symptoms. At this point, you are in the clear. As long as the headache is better than yesterday that is a good sign. Perhaps take a Tylenol to help with the pain.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
OK so there is no such thing as "very mild" brain damage?

There is such a thing as mild brain damage, but not due to eating a large pizza.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
OK thanks. My last concern was that, even today, I still had a heavy/weak sensation in arms and body and it was strange. Wonder why the nerves would still be having abnormal conduction.(I will rate 5 stars after this)

Some times it can take your electrolytes 24 hours or so to reach an equilibrium. It may also be related to eating such a large pizza and feeling fatigued and tired after that. This should all hopefully get better in the next day or so.

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