Overhydration Is Potentially Deadly For Athletes, Experts warn

Posted by on July 9, 2015 in Health, Prevention with 0 Comments

Article Source: Science Daily

Overhydrating with water or sports drinks can lead to a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), said Mitchell Rosner, MD, a kidney specialist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Overhydrating with water or sports drinks can lead to a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), said Mitchell Rosner, MD, a kidney specialist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

While the risks of dehydration are well known, new international guidelines seek to protect athletes from the serious health risks associated with drinking too many fluids while exercising.

Overhydrating with water or sports drinks can lead to a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), said Mitchell Rosner, MD, a kidney specialist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine who chaired the guideline development group. EAH occurs when the body has too much water relative to its salt level, Rosner said. When the salt level in the blood falls too low, he added, it leads to significant neurological problems and can be fatal.

Related article: 5 Surprising Things I Learned About Water

Although EAH once occurred primarily among participants in endurance sports such as marathons and triathlons, Rosner said, physicians now see the condition in participants in a wider range of sports, leading to the new guidelines.

“We have documented at least 14 deaths [from EAH] since 1981, including two deaths last summer in young athletes playing football,” Rosner said. “The common feature in all cases is excessive water consumption during athletic events. This is driven by common misbeliefs that overhydration can improve performance and even prevent dehydration. It is worth noting that data demonstrates mild degrees of dehydration do not impair performance.”

The key to preventing EAH, Rosner said, is to let your body tell you when you need a drink.

“We recommend using your thirst as a guide,” he said. “If you drink when thirsty, you will not become hyponatremic and you will not suffer from significant dehydration.”

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