Tag Archives: hyponatremia

Can Consuming Too LITTLE Sodium Also Be Dangerous?

Sodium is an electrolyte that is essential for stabilizing water balance in and around cells. We’ve all heard that consuming too much salt can be detrimental to health by contributing to such ailments as heart disease and obesity, but did you know that taking in too little salt can come with its own extensive and dangerous set of problems? Some of those include:


Hyponatremia is a health condition that arises when sodium levels in the blood drop dangerously low (usually under 135 mmol/L). This over-dilutes the sodium in the body which can adversely affect blood cells by making them distort and swell. This can become life threatening if levels go below 120mmol/L without treatment.

Symptoms to Recognize

According to the Mayo Clinic, notable symptoms of hyponatremia include:

  • Mental fuzziness such as confusion
  • Irritability or other mood changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme muscle cramps or weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • In extreme cases coma may ensue

Who Gets Hyponatremia?

  1. Athletes are frequent victims of hyponatremia if they train too hard without replenishing electrolytes. Did you ever watch a marathon on TV and wonder why some athletes were doubling over, nearly crippled before the finish line? That is due to hyponatremia brought on by dehydration. It is important for athletes to use specially designed electrolyte packets or drinks with electrolytes when training vigorously or in the sun.
  2. The elderly are more sensitive to salt, and therefor are recommended to only have 1500 mg daily, however, elderly people are also more vulnerable to hyponatremia if their intake is too low, so they should get regular blood-iodine checks.
  3. People with certain health conditions such as kidney, liver, heart, thyroid or adrenal function problems are more likely to develop hyponatremia.
  4. People taking certain medications such as antidepressants or diuretics (water pills) should pay close attention to their symptoms and have their doctors periodically check on sodium levels.

Other Health Consequences of Not Taking in Enough Sodium

  • Heart Risks of Low Blood-Iodine Levels – We all know too much sodium can lead to hypertension and other heart problems, but a few notable medical studies have also outlined a correlation between highly sodium-restricted diets and premature mortality rates in those with cardiovascular disease as well. So it is important for patients with CVD to stick closely to their doctor’s sodium intake recommendations.
  • Diabetes dangers – there have been studies conducted outlining the possibility that low salt intake may trigger insulin resistance, this contributing to diabetic attacks in some patients.
  • Premature babies – Pregnant women who don’t get enough salt are at greater risk of having a premature baby, or one who with delayed neurodevelopment.
  • Compromised mental functioning in children – children with iodine deficiencies display lower cognitive functioning and tend to score lower in IQ tests.

How Much Sodium Do We Need?

The FDA recommends a daily sodium intake of less than 2300mg for most healthy people except a drop to 1500 mg daily after age 53, for children or following a doctor’s recommendation for health reasons. It is also important to try not to meander north or south of the appropriate recommended value so as not to let sodium levels drop too low either.

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Summer Exercise Tips and Cautions

Most everyone wants to flock from the gym to the great outdoors for their exercise regimens during the summertime, and who could blame them? Few wish to be stuck inside doing reps when sunlit sidewalks are calling, however, summertime can be a dangerous (even downright deadly) time for exercisers who fail to take the necessary precautions. Some of those precautions are as follows:

Don’t Try To Compete With The Heat

You may be the most athletic person around, but you’re still no match for the sun at its fiercest. It is highly advised to take your exercise back indoors during peak sun hours. Avoid prolonged exposure or any serious outdoor athletic activity between 10am-3pm if possible. The early evenings are wonderful times to hit the asphalt, you’ll have a bit more of a breeze and will avoid the punishing sun. It can be very dangerous to exert yourself during extreme heat, for even the most conditioned body. The body doesn’t get a chance to cool off properly, as your sweat can’t evaporate as easily in the hot sun which can lead to your system overheating.

Heatstroke Signs And Symptoms

You’re seriously tempting fate if you exercise in very hot weather – an elevated body temperature plus the heat can equal heatstroke, which can even be fatal. Over 600 Americans die annually from heatstroke, don’t let your drive to exercise run you into trouble. If you are exercising in the heat and feel these symptoms, seek medical treatment ASAP:

  • Weakness, dizziness or faintness
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Accelerated heartrate
  • Unexplained and sudden headache
  • Vomiting or an upset stomach
  • Breathing trouble
  • Absence of perspiration when you should be soaked

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

We all know it is important to hydrate while exercising, but it is doubly important to keep hydrated while exercising in the sun. The heat causes even more perspiration so it is essential to replenish those fluids to keep from dehydration. Some symptoms of dehydration to watch for include: dry mouth, thirstiness, fatigue, headache, aches and pain, dry skin or irritability. If extreme cases of dehydration are left unchecked they can be fatal, leading to acute kidney failure.

Be Tight With Electrolytes

As important as it is to stock up on water while exercising in the summer heat, it is equally as important to replenish your electrolytes if you are exercising for prolonged periods of time in the heat. You can travel with some Gatorade or a similar electrolyte-rich drink, or you can purchase runner’s electrolyte packets. Failing to keep your electrolytes balanced during long, intense summer workouts can lead to a potentially deadly condition called hyponatremia which causes seizures, nausea and severe muscle cramps.

Well that concludes our How To Exercise Safely In the Summer Part 1, but check back for part 2 next which will cover air quality and other helpful tips! Thanks for visiting DocChat!