A mild craving for salt is normal, but if you find yourself having strong or recurring salt cravings along with low blood pressure, it may be a sign of a serious underlying problem with your adrenal glands. Your doctor can help determine if your salt craving and blood pressure numbers are harmless or a result of a major medical condition.
Salt Craving and Sodium
Sodium is a substance that is found in your blood and is important for your health because it is an electrolyte. Your body tries to keep your sodium levels within a fairly narrow range. If you develop a severe craving for salt, it can be a sign that your sodium levels are low. If you have a craving for salt along with low blood pressure, this may be a sign of a problem with your adrenal glands.
Adrenal Glands and Sodium Regulation
Your adrenal glands make a variety of hormones that regulate different processes in your body. One adrenal hormone, aldosterone, is a mineralcorticoid, which means that it helps control the levels of sodium and potassium in your blood. Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands are not able to make enough of these different hormones. The resulting aldosterone deficiency can cause a loss of fluid and salt from the body, leading to a salt craving and low blood pressure.
Addison's disease can manifest in a variety of ways. In addition to craving salt, people with Addison's disease may feel constantly thirsty or dizzy. Chronic vomiting and diarrhea can result in dehydration. Addison's can also cause muscle weakness, fatigue, paleness, loss of appetite, lesions in the mouth, darkened skin patches, unintended weight loss and unusually sluggish movement.
Causes and Treatment
In most cases, Addison's is caused when the immune system attacks the adrenal gland and impedes its ability to make hormones. However, some infections such as cytomegalovirus and tuberculosis can cause Addison's disease. Shock can also cause Addison's as a result of hemorrhage in the adrenal glands. If your salt craving and low blood pressure is due to a lack of aldosterone, your doctor will probably treat you with aldosterone supplements.