010719 Are you at Risk for Hyponatremia? Part 1

010719 Are you at Risk for Hyponatremia? Part 1

For a long time we have been told to drink, drink, and drink more fluids to keep us well hydrated. Well it just so happens, you can, in fact, drink too much!

Pronounced hi”po-nah-tre’me-ah, it means a deficiency of sodium in the blood or salt depletion. Put more medically it “is a disorder in fluid-electrolyte balance that results in abnormally low plasma sodium concentration”. Although rare, this can be a lethal condition if left medically untreated.

If you are a “salty sweater” and are a small framed, light-bodied individual, you may be at risk before your heavier partners. A small body means it takes less fluid to dilute the extra cellular fluid. Losses of a large amount of sweat and/or salty sweat increase the rate of sodium loss in the body. Add in the extra water without sodium and the stage is set.

Drinking too much before and during prolonged exertions in a hot, humid environment contributes to the condition. Hyponatremia is a situation whereby blood concentrations of sodium fall to an abnormally low level. This precipitates a rapid and dangerous swelling of the brain that in severe cases leads to seizures, coma and finally death. The way it does it is in this manner:

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