My Experience With Hyponatremia

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BY Lyla

My family is very focused on staying healthy, whether that is working out, eating good food, or staying hydrated. We always make sure that we drink enough water to keep our bodies going. When lacrosse season comes around we are extra focused on drinking more water, because we sweat a lot, especially during the summer games. Emily and I got these huge water 120 oz bottles with handles and I’d carry mind around, consuming what we thought was a healthy amount of water during our tournaments.

A few weeks ago we were in Maryland for the second day of a lacrosse tournament and it was super hot out. About an hour after my second game I started to not feel well, so I drank some water and juice because I thought I was dehydrated. We sat in the AC in the car, but generally heat and running around a lot does not ever really bother me. I had a good breakfast that morning and also had a good lunch. But I felt super dizzy and nauseous. I threw up three times (ew!) and then my mom called an ambulance. One of the girls on my team had a mom who was a PA and so she came into the car where I was resting and put ice on me to cool my body temperature. I was shaking and when the ambulance arrived they thought I had heat stroke because all of the symptoms pointed to that and dehydration. In my daze I was a little confused because I had already drank so much water, (most of my giant water bottle) but went along with it because they were the experts. They tried to put an IV in me 6 times to give me a bag of fluids but my body refused to let them in because they couldn’t find a vein. The ambulance took me to the hospital ER where they took a sample of my body fluids and it looked so clear it was like water. When a nurse came into my room and was going to do another IV attempt to give me a bag of fluids my mom said wait because why would they need to put fluids in if I was completely hydrated (clear body fluid).

Over the hours that I was there, many doctors came in and they examined all my charts and numbers and together they came to the conclusion that I had hyponatremia, which basically is water intoxication. This is rare, especially as you can imagine at a summer tournament where dehydration and heat stroke would be more common. What is hyponatremia?  It’s when you drink too much water (too fast) for your kidney’s to handle. Your kidneys can only process so much at a time.  This basically floods your body and depletes the amount of sodium (electrolytes) in your body. My sodium levels were way too low. You need sodium in your body because it helps regulate so many body functions.  About 9 hours later I was released from the hospital since my levels had bounced up on their own. They would not have let me go if the sodium levels did not go back up on their own. The whole time the hospital was talking to a pediatric nephrologist (never had I heard of this but it’s a kidney specialist). I had to follow up with my pediatrician and a pediatric nephrologist (kidney doctor) to make sure I had no kidney damage. I didn’t and I was also extremely lucky. If they had been able to get an IV into me to give me fluids who knows what would have happened.

I am telling this story because I thought that drinking a lot of water was only a good thing, I was very focused on staying hydrated and since I love water that was easy. I never knew that somebody could over drink water, and I think it is important for other people to know this. The symptoms for heat stroke look a lot like hyponatremia.

Since then, I drink around 60 oz of water on a normal day (and drink to thirst) and 50 oz water+20 oz (sugarless) gatorade on active days . I sprinkle some salt on every meal (not dessert!) and am now conscious of not to drink too much water. Since my experience I have been shown some articles on how much water to drink, but not much on the dangers of drinking too much, but I think it is important that everyone is aware of what hyponatremia is. I hope this helps at least one person or at least makes people conscious about their fluid consumption. And while all of this was scary it was also a learning experience and now I know. So I will still be drinking water but have tossed my big old bottle.

Happy summer everyone.



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