Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hyponatremia in marathon runners

The word is getting out that overdrinking is more of a risk than underdrinking for endurance athletes. Too much water leads to low levels of sodium (aka hyponatremia) and can be very bad news.

I can't believe this statistic is true, however
Last year, one percent of the more than 35,000 New York City marathoners were hospitalized with hyponatremia, Maharam said, and although that is a smaller toll than in other cities' marathons, doctors say every one of those life-threatening medical emergencies could have been avoided.
That would mean 350 hospitalized runners with hyponatremia. I just can't see that.

The example used in the article is a runner who became hyponatremic at the 2004 Boston marathon. He was basically turned away at the medical tent after the race because he looked too well. I ran that race and it was horrible. After a cold spring it got close to 90 on race day. I remember finishing (about 4 hours elapsed time, 4:20 clock time) and seeing a line of wheelchairs waiting to get into the medical tent!


At 9:47 PM, Blogger ollie said...

I was in a race (1998 Chicago Marathon) where someone indeed died from this. I remember passing her; the medics had propped her up and were giving her oxygen.

But, yeah, like you, I am skeptical of the numbers.

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

Every time I see the gatorade commercial where the guy talks over images of him staggering around 50 yards short of the finish line (from "dehydration") I wonder, maybe this guy drank too much rather than too little...

At 7:40 AM, Blogger ollie said...

And it could be something other than hydration problems; it could well be something like, say, poor pacing early on.

The pros sometimes screw that up too.

An ironman is a tricky thing to train for.


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