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Sodium and Puffy Eyes

by
author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Sodium and Puffy Eyes
Close up of a spoon of salt Photo Credit Rutchapong/iStock/Getty Images

If you have ever eaten a high-sodium meal and felt bloated afterward, you can begin to understand the effects sodium can have on your body. Not only can sodium cause your stomach to feel bloated, it also can make your eyes appear puffy. To reduce the incidence of puffy eyes, you can cut back on the sodium in your diet.

Sodium and Your Body

Your body requires sodium for a number of functions, which includes maintaining the proper fluid balance in your body. Your kidneys are the main fluid sensors for your body. They determine how much sodium you have in your body and retain or release water accordingly. If your sodium levels are high, your kidneys will signal your body to retain water, which can lead to bloating. This can apply to the area underneath your eyes because the skin under the eyes is very thin. When your body retains water, the skin under your eyes may appear even more pronounced, leading to the appearance of puffy eyes.

Causes

Sodium is one of several contributing factors that can lead to puffy eyes. Being aware of the causes can help you reduce all behaviors that could potentially contribute to puffy eyes. This includes lack of sleep or sleeping flat on your back, which can cause fluid to pool underneath your eyes. Fluctuating hormone levels also can contribute to fluid retention. For example, if you are nearing the start of your menstrual cycle, changes in estrogen level may trigger fluid retention. Allergies and family history also can contribute to puffy eyes.

Prevention

While your body needs sodium to survive, you typically get enough in your daily diet without adding extra salt. If you experience sodium-related eye puffiness, you may need to cut back on foods known to contribute to fluid retention. This includes pre-packaged foods like frozen and canned foods. Sodium is frequently added as a preservative to these foods. Many restaurant and fast food meals tend to be high in sodium as well because salt is added to enhance flavor. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables or preparing meals at home with minimal salt can help reduce your overall intake.

Solution

If you experience eye puffiness that is related to sodium retention, there are some steps you can take to flush the sodium and fluid buildup from your body. The first is to gently tap the area underneath your eyes where the skin is puffy. This can encourage the fluid to drain. Flush the sodium from your body by increasing the amount of water you drink. The increase in water will dilute the salt in your body, signaling the kidneys to release fluid. You also can apply a cold compress like cooled cucumber or potato slices or a cloth dipped in milk. To your eyes and the area underneath your eyes for 10 minutes to reduce puffiness.

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