University student survives after sodium overdose with no brain damage

John Paul Boldrick, a student of the University of Virginia, made a bold move by chugging down a quart of soy sauce as a part of a dare. Surprisingly, a month after, he was back to normal with no brain damage whatsoever, a rare case.

As a part of an initiation to join the Zeta Psi fraternity house, the boy gulped down a quart of soy sauce, and began seizing and foaming at the mouth immediately after. Spending three days in coma and following a month long recovery, he is now back to normal, with no apparent brain damage.

Excessive consumption of salt, also known as hypernatremia, may have extremely hazardous effects on the body, scientists claim. Boldrick is a first to survive, without any lasting neurological impacts on his brain, LiveScience says.

When Boldrick began foaming in the mouth, he was immediately bought to the emergency room at Zeta Psi, and was given anti-seizing medication. However, by the time he was taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center, he was already in coma.

The excessive salt in his body was then flushed out through a nasal tube, which administered sugar water dextrose solution. Fortunately the sodium levels in his body returned back to normal within five hours, and after three days, he woke up from his coma.

"He didn't respond to any of the stimuli that we gave him," Dr David J Carlberg, told LiveScience. "He had some clonus, which is just elevated reflexes. It's a sign that basically the nervous system wasn't working very well."

However, a month later, he was back to normal, attending school and giving his exams.

"We were more aggressive than had been reported before in terms of bringing his sodium back down to a safer range," said Carlberg, who speculates that the reason behind how Boldrick was able to survive without any permanent damage to his brain, might be the fact that the sodium was eliminated out from his system pretty quickly.

Owing to the osmoregulation, the body tries to balance the salt-water levels, causing water to move out from the body organs and tissues, into the blood, during hypernatremia. This causes the brain to shrink, and may turn bad if the sodium is not removed immediately. This may explain why sodium overdose was earlier a common method of suicide in China.

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