Medicine: Too Much Salt

The dreadful dropsy grows apace, Nor can the sufferer banish thirst, Unless the cause of the malady has first Departed from the veins.

— Horace, Odes 11:2

Horace used dropsy (most commonly, a swelling of the feet and ankles) as a figure of speech for greed. But modern medical science has found truth as well as poetry in his lines. The cause of the malady, doctors now believe, is not water, but sodium, which prompts the body to hoard water in abnormal amounts — usually as the result of a heart or kidney...

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