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Mr Skeptic

Does drinking water reduce blood sodium?

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What with the current war on salt, I was wondering if a simple way to reduce sodium would be to just drink lots of water. As I understand it, it will reduce your electrolytes of which sodium is one of the major ones. What with all the people who are dehydrated it might have other beneficial side-effects, rather than the more dubious side effects "normal" drugs have.

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Sodium and water are both vital to normal functioning of the human body. An excess of salt can lead to problems, just as a lack of it can. Drinking a lot of water can help balance levels in the body, as a lot will be passed with urine, but that can be dangerous too. I believe healthy kidneys can excrete about a liter of water per hour, and drinking more than something like 10-15 liters of water a day can lead to water intoxication, which can be fatal. Maybe someone better versed in medicine can elaborate or correct any errors.

 

What I can say is, for dehydrated patients (I'm an EMT), we usually give what's known as "normal saline," which is a 0.9% solution of sodium chloride in water.

Edited by John
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The simplest way is still controlling the intake. While drinking a lot of electrolyte-free water while sweating and urinate a lot will decrease the sodium content, it will result in fluctuations rather than a controlled decrease. If the short-term level of sodium decreases too fast, it will have really nasty effects.

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Well, I was thinking of it more as a long-term solution. A person can't really drink all that much water at once without feeling very sick. As for simplicity, chugging a few more glasses of water throughout the day seems simpler than checking the sodium content of everything you eat. I doubt most people would be even close to having too few electrolytes, especially those who are trying to lower their blood sodium. Anyhow, your urine color will give you a good hint of your hydration level.

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You do not only lose a particular electrolyte but dilute out all of them. Also you would be surprised how much electrolytes you can lose just by walking around in, say Phoenix at this time of year.

However, to have any significant impact just drinking another glass or two generally does not cut it, if one maintains a high sodium diet.

Edited by CharonY

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In the very short term, as in hours, it would not do anything to the sodium level. The sodium level would stay the same, just diluted because of the amount of water. Kidneys can only secrete so much sodium also.

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What with the current war on salt, I was wondering if a simple way to reduce sodium would be to just drink lots of water. As I understand it, it will reduce your electrolytes of which sodium is one of the major ones. What with all the people who are dehydrated it might have other beneficial side-effects, rather than the more dubious side effects "normal" drugs have.

You can actually take in so much free water that you drop your serum sodium level. In fact there is a condition called primary polydypsia (also called psychogenic polydypsia) in which this occurs.

 

Serum sodium levels, however, are carefully regulated by your kidneys. It's very difficult to outpace a healthy set of kidneys (as John noted).

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