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What is the right sodium and water balance?


We’re often told about the importance of drinking water, in fact, we wrote an article on it earlier in Nutrition Education. What many don’t know is when too much water will become harmful and potentially fatal! We don’t want anyone to die from drinking too much water so we’re going to discuss some of the things you need to think about when rehydrating and let you know about Hyponatremia.

Hyponatremia is a large word to describe having too much water relative to our sodium levels.

Our body prefers to keep blood sodium and all other electrolytes between 136-145mEq/ L (millequivalents of solute per litre of solvent). Hyponatremia occurs when the plasma sodium concentration drops below 135mEq/ L.

There’re three common levels of Hyponatremia and we’ve listed these below:

low blood volume high blood volume normal blood volume

LBV is caused by vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, burns and salt-losing kidney diseases HBV is caused by diuretic use, hypothyroidism, ADH and excessive thirst/ water consumption NBV is caused by congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, kidney disorders and excessive water consumption.

Symptoms of Hyponatremia can include:

headache swollen hands and feet restlessness confusion and/ or vomiting and nausea

Some of these symptoms are quite similar to the symptoms you may go through when you’re dehydrated so it’s always important to make sure that you know if you’re under or over because giving someone water when they’re suffering from Hyponatremia can be fatal.

Athletes and exercise enthusiasts are most at risk due to their want/ need to replace lost fluids. The biggest mistake often being they drink only water and don’t balance it out with electrolytes that you can find in sports drinks. Fatalities have occurred only in extreme circumstances such as:

A student drinking too much water during a hazing A lady who died after drinking too much water on a radio show competition And of course those who’ve died after drinking too much water when taking ecstasy tablets

When you next drink water, drink it slowly, don’t skull it. If you need a lot of fluid intake, consider mixing water with a sports drink to help maintain the balance.

Don’t let this article scare you from drinking water. Water is obviously very important and keeps us moving, we just need to be smart when it comes to rehydration and be aware of the risks that can come from it when we’re not.

Justin Beard Pn1


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