During hot summer months, runners will tend to drink too much water. Although you think you need to stay hydrated, overhydration can easily occur. When this happens, you are at risk of developing hyponatremia–low blood sodium resulting from too much hydration. A new study suggests endurance athletes should drink when thirsty.
Appearing in the June issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers convened at the third International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, and published their recommendations. They revised their previous advice due to the two deaths of high school football players from dilutional exercise-associated hyponatremia in Summer 2014.
The newly-published statement now emphasizes a balanced approach to drinking water, especially during the hot months when hyponatremia is often more pronounced. Researchers suggest only drinking water when you are thirsty, rather than keep drinking throughout a tough workout.
“The release of these recommendations is particularly timely, just before sports training camps and marathon training begins within the United States — where the majority of EAH deaths have occurred,” said Dr. Tamara Hew-Buter, PhD of Oakland University.
Why is it important to be aware of your hydration levels? If you cannot sweat or urinate excess H20, you are at risk of your sodium level interfering with normal regulatory processes. This spells bad news for your body. Symptoms of hyponatremia include vomiting and headaches, and even seizures.
Those EAH deaths were preventable and not forcing hydration can do more good than harm. Drinking when you need it and not when you think you do, can help runners at risk of hyponatremia.