10 Effects of Drinking Salt Water of the Sea

Seafarers are surrounded by water all the time and yet, ironically absence of water remains one the biggest fear during the voyage. So the question arises- can you drink salt water of the sea and survive? And if not, then why so? The answer to this question is -NO.

Drinking salt water of sea is not an option and should not be considered so by people while out at sea. Here are the effects of drinking salt water that make this paradox crueler for all seafarers out there.

1.       Blood pressure

Drinking salt water can have unfavorable effects on the blood pressure. It makes the blood pressure to plummet high which further causes other effects on the body. High blood pressure puts excessive pressure on the heart putting its proper functioning in great jeopardy.

2.       Heart rate

To cope with the increased blood pressure which occurs on drinking salt water, the heart rate goes up too. Increased respiration rate and greater perspiration results from this which, if anything increases the loss of water from body.

3.       Physiological changes

Besides these changes, seafarers are advised not to drink sea water because it can make body functioning improper. Headache, dizziness, nausea, blood stained stool, vomiting etc are just a few of the many physiological symptoms that occur upon excessive intake of salt water of the sea. These changes only hasten the deterioration process of the body, robbing seafarers of precious time for survival.

4.       Excessive thirst

Drinking salt water of sea comes as one of the last resorts to seafarers when out on sea. However, it fails the very purpose it is done for. One of the major effects of drinking salt water is not quenching of thirst but an augmentation in it. Due to excessive salt content of seawater, the body does not register the water in it but only the salt. As such, there would be no satiation but only maddening desire to drink more and more water.

5.       Brain damage

Large amount of salt in sea water affects all the body functioning, including the brain activity as well. The increases salt content of this water upsets the salt balance of body fluids and affects the brain activity severely.

6.       Loss of consciousness

As a result of drinking salt water and all the physiological changes that occur from it, the seafarers can even lose consciousness. This could be result of any of these changes- excessive water loss, too much salt content in body, improper brain functioning etc.

7.       Impairment of judgment

Impairment of judgment or going crazy, as it is also referred to sometimes is one of the major effects of drinking salt water. The scientific explanation for this is that upon intake of seawater, a seafarer would not really be satiated. His thirst would rather increase. However, with presence of copious amount of water in front of him, he would want to continue drinking more water, being unable to control the thirst.

8.       Dehydration

Due to the osmosis, drinking water with too much salt in it will cause the water from the cells of body to go into body fluids to balance the salt content. This will cause dehydration of cells disrupting their normal functioning.

9.       Kidney failure

In long term, kidney failure occurs when sea water is taken for an extended period. Since human kidneys are not designed to handle such large amount of salt in body fluids, renal failure is the unavoidable under such conditions.

10.    Death

What follows from all these little and big symptoms is death. And if you wonder- how can you drink salt water and face a fate any worse than dying? Then the answer is yes you can because this takes away the time a seafarer might have until the help arrives.

References: livestrong

Image Credit: applebazaar

Get Free News Updates Daily

Join 40000+ maritime professionals who receive daily newsletters, offers and more..


  1. Captain Vic says

    Urine: the other water

    “The hardest thing I had to do to survive was to drink my own urine”
    ~ Mexican fisherman found alive after 13 months at sea

  2. says

    I think the only time that i would ever drink sea water i can quite honestly say would be if i was ever left on my own if say i lost my mother god forbid. I would then want to die as life would not be worth living and there would be nothing worth living for. So it would be time to turn the lights out and drink up and meet the angels.

Leave a Reply

Have Questions? Ask in our Forums