Many athletes worry about dehydration and drink a lot of water during a race.
But, a leading doctor has warned that guzzling litres of water during the course
of a 26-mile marathon can cost them their
life.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/USMC_Marathon.jpg/400px-USMC_Marathon.jpg

The study, led by Dr
James Muntz, internal medicine service chief with The Methodist Hospital in
Houston, stated that the condition, known as hyponatremia, occurs when the
runner has low sodium in his
body.

"This condition,
hyponatremia, occurs when you have low sodium in your body," Muntz
said.

"When sodium levels drop
in the fluids outside the cells, water will get in there and attempt to balance
the concentration of salt outside the cells," he
added.

The abundance of water
will cause the cells to swell. Most cells can adapt to change, however, the
brain cannot. When this occurs in less than 48 hours, it can be fatal if not
treated immediately.

The
symptoms of hyponatremia include – vomiting, loss of appetite, headache,
restlessness, abnormal mental status (hallucinations, confusion, change in
personality, etc), muscle weakness and
convulsions.

"During the
marathon a good rule of thumb is to drink about one cup of fluid every 20
minutes. Drinking any more than that over the course of the race can get you
into trouble," Muntz said.

In a
recent study of runners in the 2002 Boston Marathon found that 13 per cent of
those who finished the race developed
hyponatremia.

The majority of
these runners reported feeling "fine" after the
race.

However, if someone who
feels "fine" continues to drink water because they believe the nausea and
weakness they are feeling is due to dehydration, they could easily end up having
a seizure and falling into a
coma.

"You don’t want to
drink too much during the race, but if you do, sports drinks like Gatorade that
contain salt, would be better than a lot of water. If you experience any
symptoms, see a physician immediately," Muntz said.

Via Times of India