fluid & electrolyte balance

Fluid & electrolytes




We all know that dehydration can be dangerous, leading to dizziness, seizures and death, but drinking too much water can be just as bad. In 2002, 28 year old Cynthia Lucero collapsed midway through the Boston marathon. Rushed to a hospital, she fell into a coma and died.  In the aftermath it emerged that she had drunk large amounts of water along the run. The excess liquid in her system induced a syndrome called ‘exercise-associated hyponatremia’ or EAH for short. In which an imbalance in the body’s sodium levels creates a dangerous swelling of the brain.


STATS up to one third of endurance athletes who collapse during events suffer from EAH. Between 1989 and 1996, when the US army mandated heavy fluid intake during exercise in high heat. EAH caused at least 6 deaths. [Statistically that is not very many.]

[And the Israelis have used the ‘over-drink’ plans for decades with good results]

DON”T drink more than 1.5 quarts of water per hour during sustained, intense exercise. But do consume plenty of salt along with your fluids.



A rock formation in Utah called The Wave is remote and beautiful, but also arid and sweltering. This past July, a couple hiking the area was found dead after the afternoon heat overwhelmed them while hiking. Scarcely three weeks later, a 27 year old woman collapsed while hiking the wave with her husband and died before he could get help.

STAT an average of 675 people die each year in the US from heat related complications.

DO: carry lots of fluids, hike in the morning and let people know where you are going when trekking in the desert.


Both of these paragraphs were in the October 2013 issue of Popular Mechanics which is overall a great publication. I transcribed them both and may not be exactly as it was in the magazine.  As far as they go they make good teasers for greater research.


My observations & comments also make good teasers for further research on your part. ;]


The topic of fluid and electrolyte balance is broad enough that literally volumes of books have been written about it. Sodium Chloride [NaCl or table salt] is only 1 of the major electrolytes and if you eat a modern diet you are getting WAY more sodium than you need, in fact most cardiologists recommend LIMITING your sodium intake to generally less than 2,000 mg [2 grams] a day. It was interesting a few years ago when I was trained [and FDA certified] to run a wet pack food cannery. Each 14 to 16 ounce can of product we add more than half a teaspoon of table salt. Potassium chloride [KCl or salt substitute]  is another very important electrolyte which when most people think of bananas as ‘the’ source. Potatoes are actually a better source of potassium. Salt substitute [aka No-Salt or NU-salt brand names] is considered by some a VERY dangerous item, because this ONE person that they know got into [medical] trouble using it. Well yes, some people do get into trouble with it. There IS such a thing as over use or abuse of anything and table salt [NaCl] overload causes problems to large portions of the population. People get into trouble with too much table salt [NaCl]. Other electrolytes include magnesium, calcium, zinc, chloride and bicarbonate. EVERYTHING in moderation aka, don’t be stupid with your consumption.


Basically most of us get TOO much sodium in our diets and we don’t consume enough plain water to flush all the waste products from your system.


An interesting side note on potassium – it is a vital nutrient and it is one of the 3 ‘drugs’ used during lethal injection when the state kills someone.


See an earlier post on re-hydration drink.



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  1. Pingback: FLU again | RBO'S MUSINGS at Prepare Survive Thrive

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