This page presents some basic information on hyponatremia related to hiking and backpacking in canyon country.
Caution: Medical and other health related information found on this page is intended as basic information and should be viewed as a starting point for further investigation by the visitor. Please do further research and speak to a licensed physician prior to using any of this medical advice.
In years past we were always encouraged to drink lots of fluids, including water and electrolyte replacement drinks. Hikers and packers began drinking more fluids, but another problem surfaced. It's called hyponatremia. When the temperatures climb, hikers drink lots of water, but eat little.
Even those in good condition start staggering and spinning from an electrolyte imbalance. Their bodies have and excess of water, diluting nutrients and electrolytes. When you're hiking in the canyon country in the heat of summer your body can sweat off several liters of fluids and hour. Lost with that sweat are sodium, chloride, and potassium.
Eventually, if you keep pumping water into your body with no food behind it, fuel runs out. It causes convulsions, vomiting, unconsciousness, and other assorted problems. The best solution is to not only drink quantities of water and electrolyte replacement fluids throughout a hike, but to eat high energy and salty foods along the way.
- American Red Cross Standard First Aid and Personal Safety
- Camping and Wilderness Survival: Ultimate Outdoors Book
- Forgey's Wilderness Medicine
- New Complete Walker
- Scout Handbook
- Hyponatremia and Exercise
- Hyponatremia: What is It?
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