Hyponatremia: What Is It?

Although summer doesn’t officially start until June, Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of this season. This means temperatures will rise over the next few months and you will need to start including more hydration when running. If you live in a hotter area of the country, you need to understand hyponatremia and what it can do to your body.

What is hyponatremia?
Hyponatremia is a condition that can occur when the sodium level in your blood is too low for it to function properly. This can occur because you drank an excessive amount of water. Also, if you have an excessive sweat rate and you lose too much sodium.

When you become hyponatremic, your body’s water levels rise and your cells start to swell. This can even become life-threatening.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, vomiting, headaches, loss of energy, constant fatigue, weakness, restlessness, spasms and cramps. Careful: these symptoms are similar to overtraining as well.

Who is at risk of hyponatremia?
Runners who drink too much water during marathons, ultramarathons, and other long-distance workouts can suffer from hyponatremia. Also, older adults and those taking medications such as thiazide diuretics as well as some antidepressants and pain medications are at a higher risk level.

How do you fix hyponatremia?
Fixing hyponatremia is quite simple: cut back on how much water you drink during a workout. Switch to a sports drink to keep your body full of electrolytes and sodium, but also don’t over do it. You’ll still find water in sports drinks. Also, be sure to replenish your body with sodium, adding in a sports drink during and after a long run. You may even want to add in salt tablets to your workouts if they last longer than an hour. Just pop a pill every hour or so to keep you from losing too much sodium.