T Nation



We have always been told to drink plenty of fluids, but apparently too much hydration can result in death.

In my sports injury class today my teacher told us that three American football players died from "over hydration" last year, and an athlete was in a critical condition and nearly died from the same thing here in Australia. Apparently its "new research" and little is known about it.

I have always thought the more water the better and have never heard of this before today. Anyone else heard of this? thoughts? opinions?


Yeah, drop his class.

Hyponatremia is so rare that it should not be talked about. I think I know the 3 American football player case. It was a hazing at a campus. Where they where forced gallon after gallon of water. They would puke and pass out and be woke up and forced to drink more. This happened for hours. Only one died I think.

Water is safe unless used as a torture device.


More people have gone blind from masturbating.


...or at least have been made a pirate.


Now I am worried.....


Isn't this condition non-existent when the fluid contains micro and macronutrients?


I'm pretty sure you'd have to funnel a gallon of water after each play in order for this to happen. Plus, there comes a point where you drink so much water that you get serious cramping.

I'm guessing any football player who has drank enough water to start cramping, instead of preventing them, would be smart enough to stop drinking water for a little. Maybe not though.

I highly doubt that anyone has died by choosing to overhydrate. I have heard of the hazing thing though, I never knew if it was true or not.


Did they change the font size? I have to squint to read this.




The ONLY place that death from over hydration has ever been common is in various military schools (basic/boot, Airborne and Ranger), primarily in the southern states (GA, SC and FLA) during the summer. As reported by the Army school of lessons learned (which gives a detailed report on all catastrophic training incidents which are not classified), the cause of these deaths was not actually too much fluid, but too dilute a blood plasma.

Off the top of my head (I read the last of these reports about three years ago) in one case (at jungle phase of Ranger school), the candidate drank about 6 L of water in the just over an hour, before finally losing responsiveness. For somebody to actually die from 'overhydration', it would require then to be 1. significantly underfed and overworked (Basic/boot and Ranger school), especially without normal amounts of salt (sodium, calcium and potassium) 2. significantly overheated (to interfere with the hypothalamus' thirst regulation) and 3. forced to drink an abhorrently large amounts of water in a very short time.

So, if you, starting now, go on a four day 'bender' of 1000 pushups, 1500 flutter kicks and twenty miles of marching per day while eatings about 1200 calories each day and not sleeping more then 40 minutes per stretch, then force yourself to chug 6 liters of distilled water (ignore the urge to vomit), you MIGHT be able to kill yourself, but doubtful. Oh, don't forget to ensure that the average ambient temperature is above 90 F.


I remember reading an article in the Boston Globe last year which noted that more runners have died from hyponatremia than dehydration. It's more prevalent than you would think. According to a study titled "Hyponatremia among Runners in the Boston Marathon" in the NE Journal of Medicine:

"Background: Hyponatremia has emerged as an important cause of race-related death and life-threatening illness among marathon runners. We studied a cohort of marathon runners to estimate the incidence of hyponatremia and to identify the principal risk factors.

Methods: Participants in the 2002 Boston Marathon were recruited one or two days before the race. Subjects completed a survey describing demographic information and training history. After the race, runners provided a blood sample and completed a questionnaire detailing their fluid consumption and urine output during the race. Prerace and postrace weights were recorded. Multivariate regression analyses were performed to identify risk factors associated with hyponatremia.

Results: Of 766 runners enrolled, 488 runners (64 percent) provided a usable blood sample at the finish line. Thirteen percent had hyponatremia (a serum sodium concentration of 135 mmol per liter or less); 0.6 percent had critical hyponatremia (120 mmol per liter or less). On univariate analyses, hyponatremia was associated with substantial weight gain, consumption of more than 3 liters of fluids during the race, consumption of fluids every mile, a racing time of >4:00 hours, female sex, and low body-mass index. On multivariate analysis, hyponatremia was associated with weight gain (odds ratio, 4.2; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.2 to 8.2), a racing time of >4:00 hours (odds ratio for the comparison with a time of <3:30 hours, 7.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.9 to 23.1), and body-mass-index extremes.

Conclusions: Hyponatremia occurs in a substantial fraction of nonelite marathon runners and can be severe. Considerable weight gain while running, a long racing time, and body-mass-index extremes were associated with hyponatremia, whereas female sex, composition of fluids ingested, and use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs were not."



Yeh i ran that article too.
But you shouldn't really gulp down your water. I remember in the recent article: "Deconstructing Paul Chek" He says "Drink your food, and chew your water."