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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Does high sodium in food cause swelling in the body?

Hi. I am on my period and my mom says that I look swollen all over. I don t see any swollenness other than my feet from sitting at my school desk for the majority of the day and I don t feel any sort of pain other than the regular period cramps. Granted, I recently came back from a cruise ship to the Bahamas and the food that I ate on the trip and the school breakfast and lunch have high amounts of sodium. Could that be the reason for the so-called swelling?
Thu, 23 Aug 2018
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Internal Medicine Specialist 's  Response

Edema, which is the accumulation of fluid in the body, most commonly occurs in the lower extremities of the legs and feet. This condition, however, can also occur in the hands and can be caused by cardiac insufficiency, hormonal fluctuations or sodium intake. Swelling of the hands is also a common side effect of physical activity in some people. The exact mechanism is unknown, but it is believed that the body intentionally reduces blood flow to the extremities during vigorous activity. When you consume a high sodium diet, considered to be more than 2,300 mg daily, your body reacts by retaining water. This retention is an effort to dilute the excess sodium that can cause cellular damage. Most people retain fluid in the lower extremities, but some individuals may also experience swollen hands. Edema itself is a symptom rather than an illness and can indicate kidney problems as well as heart disease that causes inefficient pumping of the blood. Treatment depends upon the causative, take low sodium diet, regular exercise, exercise by keeping the hand above level of heart. Diuretics may help to recovery from the problem. If symptoms not improved please consult your doctor he will examine and treat you accordingly.

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