An article published in the latest issue of The Journal of Emergency Medicine, tells of a teenager, who in 2011, accepted a dare and drank a whole bottle of soy sauce before slipping into a coma.
According to doctors who treated the teenager, when he arrived at the hospital emergency room, two hours after accepting the dare, he was having seizures, foaming at the mouth and then went into a coma.
Apparently, drinking so much of the salty liquid had caused a sudden sodium surge into the teenager’s bloodstream. This ultimately led to an electrolyte imbalance known as hypernatremia, according to the doctors.
Doctors say that in cases like this, the body tries to dissolve the excess salt in the bloodstream by extracting water from body tissues directly into the bloodstream. This can apparently cause too much water in the brain and can lead to seizures, coma or ultimately death, in severe cases.
Health Canada say that they recommend that people take in no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, although they point out that the average person takes in about 3,400 mg of sodium per day.
However, the sodium content of the soy sauce that the teenager drank would be about 56,000 milligrams, way above the maximum safe dose.
The teenager’s life was saved by giving him six liters of a solution of dextrose and water through a nasal tube, according to doctors.
Although the teenager’s sodium levels returned to normal within five hours, he remained in a coma for three days. After he woke up, tests were performed on his brain but remarkably showed, no brain damage.
The Journal of Emergency Medicine did not name the teenager involved, but other reports from the media, suggest that a student at the University of Virginia, who was rushed to hospital in 2011 after drinking a bottle of soy sauce, could be the same person.
The University student had apparently gulped down the soy sauce as part of a fraternity hazing. The fraternity was closed for several months following a police investigation into the matter.