Many people believe the answer to better health is as simple as drinking more water. There are even apps created specifically to remind us to stay hydrated. But a new statement from the International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference reveals that drinking too much water (especially while exercising) can pose some serious health risks.
CBS News reports about the new advice on the dangers of drinking too much water while exercising. What can happen when a person takes in too much water while taking part in strenuous physical activity is that the body can’t handle all the extra fluid. When you experience exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) you can’t sweat out or urinate the excess fluid fast enough and it begins to dilute your very important sodium levels.
Reduced or diluted sodium levels can lead to symptoms of brain swelling like headaches, seizures, vomiting and confusion. And we often don’t show symptoms of EAH until sodium levels have become dangerously low.
It may sound like a rare condition, but when athletes are told over and over again to make sure they are hydrated it is easier to understand how just last summer two high school football players died from EAH. Georgia teen Zyrees Oliver died shortly after drinking 2 gallons of water and 2 gallons of Gatorade during football practice.
Dr. James Winger, a sports medicine physician, gives us an idea of why some of these very preventable deaths are occurring. He says, “It can be lethal, but essentially all deaths from exercise-associated hyponatremia are 100 percent preventable. We are, however, seeing hyponatremia in new settings, such as American football, paddling and long distance ocean swimming. This is supported by the common but erroneous belief that mild-to-moderate dehydration during exercise is detrimental to health or performance.” Researchers advise people to drink water during exercise only when the feeling of thirst arises and never overdo it.
What do you think of the current advice to limit water intake while exercising?
Do you tend to overdo it when trying to stay hydrated?