It’s that time of year again and workers are beginning to complain about the heat. We have heard about it time and time again about staying hydrated. As we are pushing these clear liquid drinks, but we need to be aware of the hazard associated with drinking all of this water… Water intoxication.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of proper hydration for enhancing performance and health. A lack of water is dangerous. In extreme instances, people have suffered heat stroke and even died from dehydration.
But it’s also possible to go overboard with hydration. Hyponatremia, also known as “water intoxication,” is a potentially fatal condition experienced by endurance people who over-hydrate with water.
This condition is brought on by extremely low blood sodium levels and triggers symptoms from nausea and muscle cramps to coma and even death. A runner died from the condition following the 2002 Boston Marathon, and another spent four days in a coma following a marathon in Jamaica.
The problem happens when there’s too much water and not enough electrolytes (potassium, sodium, and chloride) flowing through the body. Water keeps coming in, but because of a lack of electrolytes, the blood sodium level is low, which throws off your heartbeat and response systems.
People tend to think that water is a better choice than sports drinks, since it has no calories. This is certainly true in everyday life. But when competing in an event or a training session of extreme exertion, it’s important to hydrate with products that can replenish electrolytes, too. Good choices include Gatorade and Amino Vital Endurance Formula, or you can take products such as Gatorlytes, Gu, or Hammer Gel with water.
The rule of thumb is drink one sports drink for every 4 bottles of straight water.