Study Warns: Over-Hydration Can Kill

A study published in a recent edition of The New England Journal of Medicine warns athletes and runners that vast amounts of water or sports drinks can be lethal.

The article states that too much liquid when exercising vigorously can dilute the blood, causing the person to sicken and possibly die. In 2002, a young runner in the Boston Marathon was declared brain dead after drinking huge amounts of water and sports drinks.

While it is certainly possible

While it is certainly possible to drink too much water, injury from dehydration is much more common and more dangerous!. The risk of hyponatremia (the condition of low sodium referred to in this article) is a problem seen mainly in extreme sports such as ultramarathons rather than the conditions we see in the SCA. It is important to be aware that is it possible to over-hydrate, but people should not be afraid of adequately hydrating. The key is to take in small amounts of water or sports drink over the period of exposure to heat, especially while exercising. This, combined with proper nutrition, ensures that you're getting enough salt with the water.

See my article "On Rehydration" which was also published in Tournaments Illuminated #152, Fall 2004.

In Service to Physick and Chirurgy,

Friar Galen of Ockham, MC, OP
MKA Keith E. Brandt, M.D., M.P.H.
Chirurgeon's Point: