dehydration

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Water, water, everywhere

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

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.

Out with the old, in with the new

Written by on August 31, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I apologize in advance if this topic is crass, but even the most basic advice can prove invaluable. And if there are only two tips I can give you for your walk, they are these:

Hydrate. Joan already gave some excellent advice about keeping plenty of fluids handy, and page 23 of the MS Challenge Walk Fundraising & Training Guide goes into further detail. In short, what works for me is to drink at least six ounces between rest stops (which tend to be 2-3 miles apart). I alternate between water and Gatorade, so whatever I got at the last rest stop, I'll next top off my bottle with the other one. You don't need to know what electrolytes are to know that your body needs them. Your kidneys will thank you.

Evacuate. You're going to be drinking much more than you do in your day-to-day life, and you may not immediately realize that this requires an additional change to your routine. But trust me: use every rest stop you can find, even if you don't think you need to. There's nothing worse than hearing the call of nature when you're two miles from an appropriate opportunity.

Heather already made some of these points, but I felt them important enough to repeat. Keeping mind of these simple tasks will make your walk a much safer and more pleasant experience.

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

Hydration generation

Written by on July 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Don't Find Yourself Crying, "H2Oh No!"

First time walkers and Challenge veterans, all of us have faced the dilemma of "How much water do I really need to drink?"  It isn't always easy to find the midway point between needing to hooked up to an IV, and being ready to cross the Sahara.

I recently attended a "bring your own lunch" business seminar series. That morning, and with flashbacks to grade school, I placed a sandwich and apple into a small insulated bag along with a bottle of water. I am, after all, a member in good standing of the Hydration Generation, willing to purchase at outrageous prices that which readily flows from my kitchen sink faucet.

Once there, and naturally nosey, I looked around to see what other attendees selected for inclusion in their brown bags. I was startled to see one woman sipping from what looked to be the top part of an office water cooler! Turns out that her idea of lunch is a two gallon jug of designer H2O. (I made a mental note to nominate her for President of the Hydration Generation should elections ever be held.)

So why is it that, when faced with walking 50 miles over three days, some of us remain confused about proper hydration? I blame it on too much information. What we've read somewhere, what someone told us, the warning of the salesman selling us the backpack hydration system that once fully loaded with water is of spine bending weight.

So whose advice do we take? I recommend keeping it simple. The National MS Society has what you need to know in one easy to understand but thorough summary at http://challengedcw.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CW_DCW_hydration. Take the time to check it out. Dehydration or the wrong mix of energy drinks and water can cause serious problems that are easily avoided.

So, fellow Hydration Generation members, let me know what floats your boat!

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.