According to scientific site, Earth Sky, the concentration of salt in the body is about 75 percent less than you would find in sea water. This means that drinking seawater would significantly increase the amount of salt in your bloodstream and the amount of work your body has to do to get rid of it.
Salt dehydrates, so the more saltwater you drink, the more water your body loses. As you drink seawater, the water already present in your body is rerouted to help your body dilute the excess of salt, according to the Marine Knowledge website 3. As result, other bodily functions start to suffer because of the lack of water in your system. Dehydration causes an increase in thirst, but it also causes you to urinate more often, as your body is trying to get rid of the excess of salt 4. More urine and less water worsens the dehydration problem 4.
Early Side Effects
Glycerine Vs. Glycol
Drinking saltwater will cause a number of early side effects as you get dehydrated. Dry mouth and rapid heartbeat are followed by low blood pressure, headaches and dizziness. Lethargy and confusion will eventually start to set in. Depending on how much sea water you had to drink and whether you’re now drinking fresh water to eliminate the effects, you can also experience blood in the stool or vomit, loss of appetite and unconsciousness 3,
- Drinking saltwater will cause a number of early side effects as you get dehydrated.
- Depending on how much sea water you had to drink and whether you’re now drinking fresh water to eliminate the effects, you can also experience blood in the stool or vomit, loss of appetite and unconsciousness 3,
Serious Side Effects
If you continue drinking salt water even after noticing the initial side effects, your symptoms will get worse 3. According to the MedLine Plus, kidney failure will eventually occur if your body cannot longer produce urine because of lack of usable water 4. Severe dehydration can also lead to delirium, seizures and will ultimately kill you if not addressed 4. Even if you survive, permanent brain damage is possible.
Glycerine Vs. Glycol
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- Ocean Service: Drinking Seawater Can be Deadly to Humans
- Seashells and Such: Can I Drink Seawater?
- Marine Knowledge: Effects of Drinking Sea Water
- MedLine Plus: Dehydration
- Ohashi Y, Sakai K, Hase H, Joki N. Dry weight targeting: The art and science of conventional hemodialysis. Semin Dial. 2018;31(6):551-556. doi:10.1111/sdi.12721
- Beverages, water, tap, drinking. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. National Academies Press, 2005.
- Jéquier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutrient: The physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010;64(2):115-23. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2009.111
- Popkin BM, D'Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-4358. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Adan A. Cognitive performance and dehydration. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012;31(2):71-8. doi:10.1080/07315724.2012.10720011
- Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(2):300-307. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.235
- National Institutes of Health Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Aquagenic urticaria. Updated June 20, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Well testing. Updated April 10, 2009.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.