Drink Too Much Water?

There’s a new term showing up in fitness headlines – Exercise-linked hyponatremia (EAH). EAH occurs when a person drinks so much water that sodium becomes diluted to a life threatening point. Seems some of us have taken too far the advice to drink plenty of water. A small but increasing number of athletes and recreational runners are experiencing mild or moderate EAH symptoms: lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, puffiness and weight gain during an athletic event. Golfers, yogis, or other casual athletes who drink too much water in proportion to their electrolyte intake are also susceptible.

In response to these reports, a group of 17 international experts met at the 
International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference* to create a set of guidelines for drinking water safely when exercising.  The bottom line recommendation? Drink only when you’re thirsty. Since we at Lyte Balance are all about using the body’s cues to help us be healthy, this is good advice. However in the current state of health  information overload and our tendency to ignore or distrust our senses...how in tune are you with your thirst?

The EAH problem is an example of the hazards of one size fits all health advice. We drink because the standard wisdom has been to drink whether we’re thirsty or not – the 8 cups of water a day mantra. For those who have become accustomed to drinking a set amount of water each day no matter what, the seemingly simple advice to drink when you’re thirsty can seem confusing.

To compound the thirst problem, many of us have learned to ignore thirst. School and jobs can require waiting until break time to get a drink. Many people are just too busy or distracted to pay attention to thirst. Gradually we drink less. Ignoring thirst becomes normal.

Here are some clues you’re not in tune with thirst: 
  • You’re never thirsty or never notice that you’re thirsty.  Thirst is normal – you are out of touch!
  • You don’t drink water or don’t like to drink water. In fact, drinking water may make you feel sickly. This can occur because your body may need electrolyte salts along with water to get re-hydrated.
  • You are always thirsty no matter how much you drink. True hydration occurs when the body has a balance of water AND electrolytes. You may be drinking enough water but not getting the electrolyte salts you need to be truly hydration.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration: 
    Thirst; Dry or sticky mouth; Not urinating much; Darker, yellow urine; Dry, cool skin; Headache; Muscle cramps


It may take some work to re-activate a normal thirst response.  A reasonable rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day (e.g. 120 lbs = 60 ounces or about 7 cups of water). Use Lyte Balance twice a day to add electrolytes for true hydration.  Water + Electrolytes = Hydration.  As this fluid balance equation improves so will your ability to tune in to your natural sense of thirst.

* Statement of the Third International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, Carlsbad, California, 2015 
Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: July 2015 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p 303–320                                                                   


©Lyte Balance 
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