Today in unfathomably stupid things teens do when they're bored: A 19-year-old college student nearly died of a sodium overdose after being pressured by his boneheaded friends to quaff more than a quart of soy sauce.
The whole case is documented in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, and the details are every bit as grisly as you might imagine: After guzzling 160 to 170 grams of soy sauce, the patient apparently began having seizures and was rushed to the ER. There, he fell into a coma.
"He didn't respond to any of the stimuli that we gave him," Dr. David J. Carlberg, an emergency room physician at University of Virginia Medical Center, tells LiveScience. "He had some clonus, which is just elevated reflexes. It's a sign that basically the nervous system wasn't working very well."
The teen was suffering from a massive electrolyte imbalance called hypernatremia, which is what happens to dehydrated seafarers when they run out of freshwater and try to drink from the ocean.
The condition makes the body's cells — including the important ones in the brain — swell up, causing brain damage or even death. Other symptoms include confusion, convulsions, fatigue, and nausea.
In fact, the teen's sodium intake was so severe that doctors weren't able to lower his blood levels gradually. In order to protect his brain from neurological damage caused by swelling, they had to flush his system with "a water-and-sugar based solution" as quickly as possible, reports ABC News.
After five hours of treatment, the patient's sodium levels began to stabilize, and three days later he woke up from his coma without any lasting neurological damage. NBC News reports that he returned to college a month later.
Doctors say he's lucky he didn't die.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Hey, grammar nerds! Stop freaking out about 'alot.'
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- The elusive 'It factor' in presidential politics
- These real-life Rosie the Riveters changed the face of labor
Subscribe to the Week