Don’t drink water excessively; otherwise you might develop a condition that could be deadly, according to a new study conducted by Loyola University Health System researchers.
They pointed out the body’s innate thirst mechanism should be obeyed if people like to stay on the safe side – in other words, don’t overwhelm the organism by drinking water even if you’re not thirsty.
What happens when you drink water excessively is that the sodium in the blood lowers dangerously, causing the individual to develop exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH). This condition has drawn the medical community’s attention after 14 athletes have died, including football players and marathon runners.
However, their deaths were preventable, because staying away from hyponatremia is not that difficult. Reports published in University Herald explain the new guidelines that an international expert panel has issued recommend athletes – but not only them – to keep drinking water or sports drinks only when thirsty.
Finding the balance between hyponatremia and dehydration is easily found when the individual chooses to listen to what the body needs. Limiting drinking in excess is essential, because otherwise the kidneys’ ability to excrete excess water load fails.
Another effect of exercise-associated hyponatremia is the dilution of sodium, a substance that’s very important for the body to function properly – without it, the cells swell up, creating a life threatening situation.
Some of the symptoms of the condition are nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and gaining weight during the training for an athletic event. When hyponatremia is really severe, headaches, seizures, delirium and even come can occur.
In spite of the popular belief that a high fluid intake will prevent heat stroke, fatigue or muscle cramps during or pre-sport events, researchers recommend keeping the habit of drinking water in a healthy balance. Pushing fluids on a schedule or always drinking so the urine becomes clear are some of the damaging habits athletes sometimes follow.
According to James Winger, sports medicine physician at Loyola University Medical Center, dehydration is not responsible for heatstroke or muscle cramps. Therefore, don’t try to treat – or prevent – them by drinking water irresponsibly.
EAH is fairly easy to be treated if caught in the earlier stages; the patient needs to be administered a concentrated saline solution. If you experience these symptoms while performing physical activity, researchers advise you to consult your physician “on the double.”
Besides adapting the guidelines that coaches and athletes follow on balanced hydration and fluid intake, the panel has also suggested that the large public’s awareness needs to be raised on the dangers of EAH. They recommended educational efforts that would prevent any more EAH-deaths to occur.
Image Source: Vivien Veil