Too much water consumption can result in hyponatremia, a medical term for low sodium (salt) in the blood. Symptoms may include extreme diarrhea, headaches, confusion, weakness, and sometimes personality changes. The most severe cases will result in seizures, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.
Some people most likely to develop this condition are ultra-endurance athletes who spend long hours exercising or participation in activities of a long duration.. If during physical activity an athlete drinks excessive amounts of water, the sodium level of the blood may drop lower than 130 milliequivalents per litre, resulting in hyponatremia.
Ultra-endurance athletes who enter events such as the Ironman Triathlons, Ultra-Marathons or Full Marathons on hot humid days need to be aware of the prevention methods for hyponatremia. The following are some suggestions:
- Salt food more than the average person. Start your event with plenty of sodium in the body.
- Drink water before your event, but soon after (60 minutes) switch to sport drinks or fluids containing salt.
- Weigh yourself before, during, and after ultra-endurance events thus monitoring body fluid levels. For every kilogram lost, one litre of fluid should be consumed.
Women in Motion -Fariyal Samson
Women in Motion August 1.2001