Drinking urine, whether for emergencies or any other reason, is not recommended by medical experts.
The liquid, which is about 95% water and 5% waste products, is “probably harmless” in small amounts unless the person has been exposed to “medications or environmental toxins” that their body is trying to eliminate, according to Winchester Hospital in Massachusetts.
However, its similarity to seawater means its consumption — just like with the consumption of seawater — will result in dehydration, a report by Insider said.
“When faced with life-threatening dehydration, drinking urine may make some sense, since the temporary benefits are likely to outweigh the risks. However, this last ditch effort will be short-lived, since the kidneys stop making urine as the dehydration worsens,” Winchester Hospital explained.
Due to its inability to actually hydrate, even the U.S. Army Field Manual instructs soldiers not to drink their own urine in a survival situation.
Another problem with drinking urine is that while the liquid itself is sterile when produced in the kidney, it usually becomes contaminated upon leaving the body, a study published in 2010 said.
As the body produces urine to excrete toxins and other waste products, reintroducing these to the system may be harmful, according to Healthline.
“If a person were to drink his own urine as a substitute for fresh drinking water, the proportion of water content would rapidly decrease as the proportion of harmful waste products increased,” Winchester Hospital noted.
One study found that urine contained at least 85 different bacterial species, with some of the most common being staphylococcus and actinomyces, which are known to cause food poisoning and gum infections, respectively, according to Insider.
Continued consumption of urine can also trigger abnormally low blood pressure that can lead to less blood flow to vital organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. This would then lead to the organs’ damage or failure, according to the outlet.
“There may be rare situations where urine is the cleanest liquid at hand to pour over a dirty wound, or the only liquid to drink when buried under a collapsed building or lost at sea for days, but most of the time there are better or tastier ways to improve one’s health,” the 2010 study said.
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