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Hyponatremia: Electrolyte Replacement May Save Your Life
Click to go to the website for the  -  club in , While it's important to drink enough to remain hydrated during a marathon, triathlon or other endurance activity, overhydrating by drinking too much can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which is serious and sometimes deadly.

Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in the blood drops below 135 mEq/L (138-142 is normal).* Symptoms of hyponatremia usually begin at blood sodium levels below 130, with levels less than 120 resulting is serious medical emergency. Exercise-related hyponatremia is thought to be caused by over-drinking, both before and during exercise. Hyponatremia can result in seizure, coma, and death, so it is vital that athletes learn about the condition and how to prevent it.

Anyone who drinks too much and does not adequately replace the sodium that is lost in sweat risks hyponatremia, but certain athletes should be especially careful:

- Endurance athletes that exercise for more than 4 hours

- Athletes on low-sodium diets

- Beginning marathoners and triathletes who tend to be on the course longer and are hyper-vigilant about hydration

- Athletes who overhydrate before, during and after exercise

- Salty-sweaters - those athletes whose skin and clothes are caked with white residue after exercise.

Hyponatremia is typically caused by consuming too much water which effectively flushes critical electrolytes from your blood. One way to reduce your risk is to consume a sports drink instead of water.

Watch for a combination of these symptoms, especially if you or somebody you know is at high risk for hyponatremia:

- Rapid weight gain
- Swollen hands and feet
- Throabbing headache
- Confusion
- Dizziness
- Nausea
- Severe fatigue
- Lack of coordination
- Wheezy breathing
- Apathy
- Cramping
- Bloated stomach
- Seizure

Seek emergency care for hyponatremia. In most cases, they will be treated with an intravenious solution of a concentrated sodium solution, a diuretic medication to speed water loss and an anti-convulsive medication in the case of seizure.

Source: Crank Sports (for more in-depth reading)


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