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February 14, 1986

Hyponatremia and Ultramarathon Running

Author Affiliations

From the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn (Mr Frizzell); the Roseville (Calif) Orthopedic Group (Dr Lang); and the Department of Medicine, Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta (Drs Lowance and Lathan).

JAMA. 1986;255(6):772-774. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370060086025

Two ultramarathon runners were hospitalized with hyponatremic encephalopathy after completing 80 and 100 km (50 and 62 miles), respectively, of the 1983 American Medical Joggers Association ultramarathon race in Chicago. The two runners consumed such large quantities of free water during the race that apparent water intoxication developed. Both recovered satisfactorily after treatment with intravenous saline. The hyponatremia was caused primarily by increased intake and retention of dilute fluids and contributed to by excessive sweat sodium loss. A possible explanation for the postrace onset of symptoms might be the sudden absorption of fluid in the gastrointestinal tract after exercise ceased, with subsequent further dilution of the plasma sodium. Hyponatremia, which has not been commonly associated with exercise, should be considered as a possible consequence of ultraendurance events.

(JAMA 1986;255:772-774)