What it is Hyponatremia?
Hyponatremia is a condition characterized by an abnormally low concentration of sodium in the blood.
Hyponatremia usually occurs during marathons and long triathlons, when athletes are exercising longer and drinking more than they do in training.
Hyponatremia is also called water intoxication. Severe cases can lead to seizure, coma, and even death.
What is Sodium?
Sodium is an electrolyte that helps the body distribute water. Sodium is essential for water balance and for your muscles and organs to function effectively. Electrolytes are lost through sweat. When exercising, our body temperature rises and we sweat to keep cool. The more we sweat, the more sodium lost. Sweat loss varies from as little as 16 ounces to over three quarts during each hour of exercise.
It is important to replace lost body fluids during and after exercise. To completely replace these fluids, you must not only replace water, but also sodium and chloride. If you consume excessive amounts of water after exercise, you can further deplete sodium and chloride levels, leading to electrolyte depletion and possibly over-hydration.
What Causes Hyponatremia?
Hyponatremia is caused by prolonged sweating combined with excessive fluid consumption.
Symptoms of Hyponatremia?
Some of the most common symptoms of hyponatremia include:
Who is at risk for developing Hyponatremia?
Anyone who consumes excessive amounts of water is at risk of developing hyponatremia. However, non-competitive runners who require more than four hours to complete a marathon are more susceptible to hyponatremia than faster athletes. Smaller women may be most susceptible.
Tips on How to Avoid Hyponatremia
Can Hyponatremia be Treated?
Yes. If you or someone you knows has hyponatremia, they should see a doctor immediately. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition.
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