Symptoms of Hyponatremia
The early warning signs are often subtle and may be similar to dehydration and include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, and confusion. At this point, many athletes drink more water because they think they are dehydrated. Unfortunately, water alone will increase the problem of hyponatremia. At the most extreme an athlete may experience seizures, coma, or death.
Treatment of Hyponatremia
At the first sign of symptoms an athlete should drink a sodium containing sports drink or eat salty foods. Ideally, an athlete should plan ahead and estimate his or her fluid loss and need for sodium replacement during the event, and stay on a hydration schedule during the race. If the symptoms are extreme, a medical professional should be seen.
The best way for an athlete to avoid such problems is to plan ahead by training in the same conditions you will encounter during race day. Hydration recommendations include:
* Use a sodium containing sports drinks during long distance, high intensity events (more than 60-90 minutes long).
* Increase salt intake per day several days prior to competition (except for those with hypertension).
* Try not to drink more then you sweat.
* During a marathon a good rule of thumb is to drink about 1 cup of fluid every 20 minutes.
* In the days before the race, add salt to your foods (provided that you don't have high blood pressure and your doctor has not restricted your salt intake).
* Avoid use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medicines that contain sodium. Research suggests that these drugs may predispose runners to hyponatremia.
Keep in mind that all athletes respond differently to exercise; fluid and sodium needs will vary accordingly. Foods that provide additional sodium include chicken noodle soup, a dill pickle, cheese, pretzels, and tomato juice.
As always, it is important to consult your physician for special considerations if you have a history of any health problems or are taking any medication for a health condition.
· 9 years ago