“Salt Wasters” And Dehydration

Aldosterone is the adrenal cortex hormone the human body uses to regulate sodium (salt) and potassium (a.k.a. electrolytes) and, therefore, blood pressure.

Due to no or very little aldosterone production, people with primary adrenal insufficiency (primary Addison’s disease) and the majority (75%) of those diagnosed with classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) are categorized as “salt-wasters”, and must replace this aldosterone hormone orally (with fludrocortisone acetate, a.k.a. Florinef®).

Even with oral replacement, maintaining the optimum levels of this hormone can be a challenge. When these “salt wasters” exert themselves heavily, or spend enough time in hot temperatures, there is a good possibility of their losing too much salt in sweat and urine, putting them at higher then normal risk for dehydration. Therefore, “salt wasters” should be sure to drink enough non-sugar-laden liquids, and supplement with enough salt to alleviate this dangerous situation.

Some good liquid options to consider: water (always the best liquid), seltzer or soda water, tea of any type, fruit juice, milk, broth, etc. (Cold salted liquids are not recommended…too much salt at one time can cause diarrhea.)

Salty food ideas: dill pickles, pretzels, nuts, olives, broth, potato chips, etc.

August 2005