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Risk of Water Intoxication in Endurance Athletes

ular fluids have about the same amount of stuff dissolved in them, and keeping the net movement of water across cell membranes to a minimum. In the case when you have, for example, maybe ingested a pound of rock salt or five gallons of tap water, its not hard to imagine this delicate balance being thrown entirely out of balance. In the latter case, the extracellular fluid can become more diluted than the intracellular fluid, causing the cells in organs like the brain to quickly soak up excess water like sponges, expanding in the process.

If identified quickly, even severe cases of acute water intoxication can be treated relatively easily. As you might expect, the condition can be rapidly reversed by the intravenous administration of hypertonic saline.

The issue remains controversial, however. Some trainers and sports physiologists contend that by the time youre actually thirsty, you have lost enough fluid to already be dehydrated, so they say you need to drink in anticipation of becoming dehydrated, Verbalis explained. We dispute that notion," He said, "and contend that thirst is a good indicator of your bodys need for fluids, and that there is a window of time over which you can rehydrate safely.


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