Water, water, everywhere

Written by on August 16, 2010 at 11:12 am

You want to stay hydrated — but do you use water or gatorade? How much of each? Our medical crew tells you how to keep your body balanced.

One of the most important things you can do for your body over the course of the MS Challenge Walk is to keep it hydrated. But be careful of too much water or too much Gatorade; too much of either can cause electrolyte imbalances in your body and cause you to become sick.

Hyponatremia, or water intoxication (overdose), is caused by drinking too much water. This causes the sodium levels in your blood to become too low. Excessive sweating can also lead to hyponatremia. The early warning signs are often similar to dehydration: one may become nauseated, have muscle cramps, become disorientation or confused. The opposite condition is hypernatremia, which is too much sodium. This and hyperkalemia (too much potassium) may be caused by excessive drinking of Gatorade. The wrong amount of sodium or potassium can cause irregular heart rhythms. The best bet is to alternate water with Gatorade to keep your electrolytes properly balanced.

GatoradeThe best way for to avoid electrolyte imbalances and prevent hyponatremia is to plan ahead by training in the same conditions you will encounter during the walk. Here are some additional hydration recommendations:

  • Use a sodium containing sports drinks during long distance, high intensity events (more than 60-90 minutes long).
  • Increase salt intake per day several days prior to competition (except for those with hypertension).
  • Try not to drink more then you sweat.
  • Avoid use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medicines that contain sodium. Research suggests that these drugs may predispose runners to hyponatremia.

Jacqui is a registered nurse working in home dialysis, living in Denver, Colorado. Born and rasied in Gray, Maine, Jacqui was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and has been participating in the MS Challenge Walk since 2007. This year is the first time she's had her own team, Whittaker's Warriors.

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