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How Excess Salt Negatively Affects the Kidneys

Salt, scientifically called sodium chloride, lends taste to food, and helps in maintaining the water electrolyte balance in the body. Taken in excess, however, salt has detrimental effects on the kidneys. The kidneys are the major excretory organs of the body, and are responsible in eliminating excess, unwanted substances. Due to this function, it is the primary organ affected when these excess substances are not excreted. Excess salt exerts the same extra workload on the kidneys.

Because of homeostasis, the body could sense if there is too much salt or electrolytes in the body. When salt is in excess, the body responds by retaining water so that the excess salt would become diluted. The extra amount of water would also increase the volume of blood, which would add more workload on the heart and the kidneys.

Hypertension’s effect on kidneys

The excess salt could cause then hypertension, congestive heart failure and other unhealthy conditions. Sodium may cause also the constriction of the blood vessels that could cause hypertension. When a person has constant hypertension, vascular stress is exerted on the kidney cells, which would then be destroyed, and excretory function of the kidneys is compromised. If the kidneys are dysfunctional, they would not be able to discard toxic products of metabolism. These products of metabolism could amass in the body causing toxic poisoning.

Formation of urine crystals in the kidneys

When the kidneys become dysfunctional because of excess salt, urinary sediments may be retained to form stones and calculi. These renal stones could amass in the kidneys and block urinary ducts or passages. The most common causes of kidney stone formation are uric acid and calcium oxalate crystals. Inability of the kidneys to eliminate these stones could result to kidney stones, which may have to be surgically removed. The formation of stones in the kidneys is called nephrolithiasis.

Increased salt causes decreased blood supply to the kidneys

This effect results from the hormonal function of the kidneys, in which it would prompt the secretion of hormones to help regulate the electrolyte. This is stimulated by the hypothalamus in order to retain more water in an attempt to increase blood going to the kidneys. This does not happen, though. Instead, water accumulates in the heart and other organs causing congestive heart failure.

Dysfunctional kidneys could affect the whole body’s ability to function well because of the accumulation of waste products, which the kidneys could not excrete. To ensure good health, people avoid taking in excess salt.