A panel of experts have set up new guidelines for athletes and fitness buffs keen on not getting dehydrated when they are exercising or performing their physical activities.
Professional players, endurance athletes, hikers and recreational exercisers often drink plenty of water or take nourishment from sports drinks whenever they want to avoid a drop in their blood sodium levels. Concerned about possible dehydration, they may sometimes drink more than the usual daily recommendation. But as experts from the Loyola University Health System said, too much water-intake could lead to exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), otherwise known as "water intoxication."
At least 14 athletes have died from this condition recently, according to Eureka Alert. To prevent further incidents, the experts recommend that health buffs and athletes must then only drink when they are, in fact, thirsty.
"Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration," the guideline stated. The panel of experts brought this up during the 3rd International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference.
Excessive water intake dilutes the body's sodium levels, which then leads to the disruption of the body's normal process. Symptoms to EAH may include headache, vomiting, brain swelling and seizures. These may occur mildly but can be fatal if left untreated. At least one percent of athletes have experienced symptomatic EAH in recent endurance events.
"The safest individualized hydration strategy before, during and immediately following exercise is to drink palatable fluids when thirsty," the panel said.
The newest guidelines gives more importance to finding a balanced approach to hydration, especially during these summer months, when the heat can lead to more drinking.
"Our major goal was to re-educate the public on the hazards of drinking beyond thirst during exercise," said Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, one of the members of the panel, according to Medical Express. "The release of these recommendations is particularly timely, just before sports training camps and marathon training begins within the United States - where the majority of EAH deaths have occurred."
The new guideline was discussed in a podcast in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.