The Dangers of Drinking Seawater

The Dangers of Drinking Seawater
Is drinking seawater dangerous? It certainly is. In fact, the salt content alone can be extremely hazardous to your health.

What’s So Bad About Drinking Seawater?

So, let’s talk about drinking seawater. The human body needs constant hydration. Drinking plenty of fresh water is essential for flushing the system and keeping our bodies in proper working order.

While we need certain amounts of salt to operate, too much can easily become a problem. You see, our cells depend on a specific amount of sodium chloride, or salt, to live. But as we mentioned, too much sodium can be hazardous to our health. In many situations, it can even be deadly. This is the major danger of drinking seawater. When a person consumes ocean water, their body takes in much more salt than it can handle.

How Does Salty Water Affect the Kidneys? 

A person’s kidneys help to filter nasty elements from the body, including excess salt. This will help to regulate your body throughout the day. However, an overabundance of saltwater can quickly become too much for your kidneys to handle.

As blood passes through the kidneys for filtering, excess water passes through a semi-permeable membrane into a collection channel inside the kidney. After drinking seawater, the high salt content of the blood and water will prevent proper purification. Without this necessary process, a body may experience dehydration, high blood pressure and even organ damage. Your kidneys are a crucial line of defense.

Don’t Panic About Accidentally Swallowing Small Amounts of Saltwater

If you’ve been reading closely, this is likely painting a rather grim picture. Fortunately, this is mostly a warning for taking big gulps of salty water. In the event that you’ve accidentally swallowed a tiny bit of seawater, it is not likely to be an emergency.

A few accidental sips will probably not have an effect on your body. This is especially true if you are properly hydrated with freshwater.

Of course, if you drink a lot of seawater and are not properly hydrated, this can be a problem. Without fresh water to counteract the salt, a person will likely become dehydrated or even suffer from bouts of diarrhea.

Above all, hydration is key. In this situation, drink plenty of freshwater to help balance out the damage. This way, you can help your kidneys out of trouble.

What About Saltwater Pools?

In the past, we’ve discussed saltwater pools. While drinking seawater and chemical-treated pool water are not the same, neither is advised. In the case of saltwater damage… salt is salt. You run the same risks from gulping down too much salty pool water. When in doubt, don’t drink the water. Besides high sodium content, you never know what waterborne bacteria might be floating around!

As always, be sure to contact a medical professional as quickly as possible if you consume large amounts of salty water. A doctor will always have the best advice. For more detailed answers about drinking water from public and private sources, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up an official FAQ page.