What Athletes Should Know About Hyponatremia

If you still don't know what hyponatremia is, and you work out regularly, you'll be interested to know what this common ailment for athletes is all about.
What Athletes Should Know About Hyponatremia

Last update: 22 April, 2019

Hyponatremia is a condition that usually and frequently affects athletes. The main issue is that, on many occasions, it’s complicated to make a diagnosis and name all the annoying symptoms that athletes suffer from.

That’s why it’s essential to learn about this health issue. This is the best way to know what’s going on with your body and take any necessary measurements to recover your good health.

In the next paragraphs, we’ll explain what hyponatremia consists of and what its main causes are. We’ll also analyze its main symptoms and explain the best way to end this bothersome problem.

What is hyponatremia?

Despite having such a complicated name, hyponatremia is a very simple thing to understand. It’s a condition that happens when sodium levels in your blood are too low. Sodium is essential to maintain your health since it regulates the amount of water your cells contain.

Hyponatremia is a pretty unknown condition. Getting a diagnosis for it is, in many cases, complicated. That’s why it’s worth learning more about it. This way, if you happen to experience any of the symptoms that we explain below, you’ll be able to sense that you may be dealing with this inconvenience.

The best thing you can do if the discomfort is constant and prevents you from leading a normal life is to visit your family doctor. He’ll perform the necessary tests to end this condition as soon as possible.

Woman feeling ill due to hyponatremia

What causes hyponatremia?

The factors that can trigger hyponatremia are very diverse. People usually think it’s due to a very high amount of liquids in comparison with the amount of sodium that’s in your body. However, this is not totally confirmed, as this condition can affect people who ingest too many liquids as well as people who don’t drink enough liquids.

Hyponatremia can also appear after vomiting or suffering from gastroenteritis for several days. In this case, the sodium levels in your body will return to normal in a matter of a few weeks. Other more serious health problems that could cause hyponatremia are cirrhosis and heart insufficiency.

Main symptoms

As we mentioned before, diagnosing hyponatremia can be pretty difficult. This is because there are many and varied symptoms.

The more common ones are nausea with or without vomiting, headaches or a feeling of tiredness. Besides, the patient can experience other symptoms such as muscle cramps, drowsiness, and disorientation.

It’s common for these symptoms to appear all at once. In this case, the diagnosis is easier. On the contrary, if they appear individually and intermittently over time, the doctor may not make the connection with hyponatremia right away.

How to prevent hyponatremia?

After learning about this condition, you’re probably thinking about doing everything in your power to prevent it. To help you out with this, here are some guides and tips to maintain your health in a perfect state:

  • Drink only the amount of water you need: on many occasions, we talk about how essential it is to drink at least two liters of water per day. However, we don’t usually talk about how damaging it is to drink too much or too little water. The best thing you can do is to pay attention to your levels of thirst and not force yourself to drink water.
Woman drinking a bottle of water
  • Start drinking supplementary sports drinks: drinks that are specially formulated for athletes contain sodium. That’s why mixing these types of drinks with water is a very effective way to fight hyponatremia.
  • Limit your intake of foods with diuretic properties: diuretic foods contribute to eliminating a bigger amount of sodium to what your body usually eliminates. Therefore, it’s convenient to eat them in moderation.

Finally, one last recommendation is to increase your intake of salty foods before and after working out. This is a very easy way to provide our body with an extra dose of sodium. For example, you can have healthy snacks such as a small piece of lean pork or a handful of nuts. This way you’ll give your body all the nutrients it needs to function properly.

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The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.