What Sports Person Should Know About Hyponatremia

What Sports Person Should Know About Hyponatremia

What is hyponatremia?

Hyponatremia is also known as water intoxication, which is caused due to excessive water intake, which causes low sodium concentration in the blood.  The concentration of sodium level in the blood becomes abnormally low. Sodium helps in regulating the water content in the and around our cells. The cells become to swell because of low sodium, and it can cause many health problems in the future, which can also be life-threatening. Depending upon the condition you may either be asked to drink less water or nay need intravenous electrolyte medications and solution

Signs and Symptoms of Hyponatremia

The early signs of hyponatremia are very subtle and may look similar to dehydration and can cause confusion, Slurred speech, and disorientation. Many athletes start drinking more water at this point because they have mistaken it for dehydration. Water creates further more problems in the body. In extreme cases, the athlete can also die.

Symptoms and signs of Hyponatremia include:

Normal signs of Hyponatremia
  • Nausea 
  • vomiting
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Loss of energy
  •  drowsiness 
  •  fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle  cramps
  • Coma

Causes of Hyponatremia?

There are various reasons which can get the sodium level low in your body

  • Medications- antidepressants, water pills, pain medications can cause you to sweat more and urinate often. This can affect the sodium level in your body.
  • Health conditions- kidney failure, heart failure, and liver diseases can have an impact on body fluids, which in turn can affect the sodium level in your blood. Chronic or severe diarrhea and vomiting can reduce body fluid and deplete sodium content.
  • Hormonal imbalance- some hormones can also affect sodium levels. A condition called  SIADH (syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone) makes the body retain water. Addison’s disease even one condition affects the hormones which are responsible for keeping a check on electrolytes. If the thyroid hormone is too mow in your body, it can affect the sodium level in your blood.
Genuine Causes of Hyponatremia
  • Too much water intake-  drinking excess water can dilute the sodium content in the blood. This happens generally when people drink a lot of water during endurance activities such as triathlons, marathons, and keep losing sodium through sweat.

How to Prevent Hyponatremia?

An athlete should always start training under the same circumstances and conditions in advance, which he will encounter during the actual race. This is the best way to avoid any chances of getting hyponatremia.

Hydration recommendations are as follows:

  • Calculate your daily water intake using this simple formula.
  • Low End: body weight (in pounds) x 0.5 = fluid ounces per day
  • High End: body weight (in pounds) x 1.0 = fluid ounces per day
  • Use a sodium content containing sports drinks when going for a long-distance run, and for high-intensity events that last longer than 60-90 minutes.
  • Increase your daily salt intake every day several days before the competition starts, only if you do not suffer from hypertension.  Eat Foods that contain additional sodium content such as chicken noodle soup, cheese,  a dill pickle, pretzels, and tomato juice.
  • Do not drink more water than how much you sweat.
  • During a marathon run,  follow a good rule of thumb that is to drink 1 cup of fluid in every 20 minutes.
  • Avoid usage of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medicines.  These medicines contain sodium.  Many research suggests drugs may expose runners to the risk of hyponatremia.

Always remember that every athlete has different responses to different exercises; which implies that the needs of fluid and sodium will be different for each individual.


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