Signs & Symptoms of Excessive Salt Intake in Children

Children younger than age 14 should consume no more than 6 grams of sodium daily, depending upon their age, according to health professionals with the Food Standards Agency. Consuming more than the recommended amount of sodium every day puts them at risk of developing a number of health-related signs and symptoms. If you are concerned your child is consuming too much sodium, or have questions about reducing your child's salt intake, consult your pediatrician.

Consuming too much salt can have a serious affect on your child's health. (Image: verdateo/iStock/Getty Images)

Stomach Discomfort

Eating too much salt may irritate your child's digestive tract or stomach, which can lead to symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhea. After a high-salt meal, your child may complain that her tummy hurts or she may need to go to the bathroom frequently. Young children who wear diapers may require frequent diaper changes due to loose, watery bowel movements. Recurrent bouts of diarrhea may result in the loss of too much fluid from your child's body, which may cause dehydration. Seek care from your pediatrician if your child develops severe stomach pain or chronic diarrhea.

High Blood Pressure

At least 97 percent of children and adolescents take in too much sodium, which may also cause a significant increase in your child's blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. An elevated blood pressure means that your child's heart needs to exert more force to push blood through his body. Over time, high blood pressure may damage your child's heart muscle and can increase his risk of developing heart disease as an adult.


Your child may develop seizures from too much salt in the bloodstream, the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library explains. Seizures may result in uncontrolled muscle spasms or brief lapses of consciousness. Your child may also appear unusually restless, lethargic or confused. Contact your pediatrician if your child develops seizures to ensure he receives prompt and appropriate care.

Additional Signs and Symptoms

If your child is unusually thirsty or shows signs of swelling, he may be consuming too much salt. Your child's skin may have a doughy or bloated appearance. If left undetected or unresolved, persistently high salt levels may elevate his risk of developing breathing difficulties, brain swelling, kidney damage or heart failure. In the absence of appropriate medical care, such complications may be fatal.

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