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Otters Oddities

Planets spin around in an elliptical orbit.

Well, they do, mostly. And, that Bohr model sort of looks like what people conceptualize as a solar system. So, whatever. ( come up with a good one-liner about a sodium atom...)


Oops. I mean, um....SPOILER ALERT! (you try to come up with a good one-liner about sodium)

There. I fixed it.

Anyway, that is a Bohr model of a sodium atom. And sodium plays a very large part in todays oddities post.


There is a condition where there is an imbalance of the bodies electrolytes. This imbalance is marked by an increase of sodium levels. It's called Hypernatremia. And, it can kill you.

Bear with me, this gets complicated.

People often think hypernatremia is caused by too much sodium in the system. That would make sense, since an elevated sodium level is how they diagnose it. But, that would be wrong. It's not an excess of sodium, but rather, a lack of free-water.


*Science Alert*

Free-water, (more accurately, Free Water Clearance), is the volume of blood plasma that is cleared of solute free water. We are using the medical terminology here, so in that last sentence, cleared means 'the pharmokinetic ability of renal secretion', and solute means, 'a substance in a solution such as sugar'.


Have I lost you yet?

Because of the symptoms of hypernatremia, it's often described with the synonym, dehydration.


However, while they are similar, they are actually different. Hypernatremia is usually caused by not getting enough water, causing a sodium imbalance. (dehydration is the excessive loss of water). The elderly are the most susceptible. It can also be caused by a case of excessively watery diarrhea, excessive loss of water though the urinary tract due to diuretics, or even extreme sweating.

It can also be caused by ingesting a hypertonic liquid. (a liquid with a higher concentration of solutes than the body). Sea water is the most common cause.


If caught in time, hypernatremia can be easily reversed with an intravenous saline solution.

Still with me?

Good. Because now that you know what hypernatremia is, I can finally get to the point of this post.


That's right, after way more learning than you wanted this early in the morning, it's finally time to get to the oddity. Remember how I mentioned sodium playing a part in todays post? Well, remember hypernatremia is diagnosed by elevated sodium levels.

The strangest case of hypernatremia is todays oddity.

In June 2013, on a dare, a 19 year old drank 1 quart of soy sauce. That equals about 170 grams of sodium. The recommended amount of sodium is 2,400 milligrams a day. That soy sauce was 170,000 milligrams.


He overdosed on soy sauce.

The man spent 3 days in a coma, but, in the end, suffered no long term effects.

You just remember this the next time you get General Tso's for take out. Go easy on the sauce!


*Interesting Fact*

In ancient China, overdosing on salt was a fairly common method of suicide.

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