View Full Version : Looks like you can drink too much water

04-14-2005, 11:00
This sort of flies in the face of everything we've heard about the old " drink all you can hold" theory. I once met a guy near woody gap that had to go to the hospital and looking back he was probably suffering from this condidtion. I hope they didn't give him an IV.


04-14-2005, 11:24
This is really nothing new ...just an update. Years ago they called it "water poisoning". It has long been known that you can drink yourself to death on water. I don't know of a single reported incident in which a distance hiker has taken in a toxic amount of water while hiking.

I think the most important message to be taken from this latest research is that consumption of water at moderate rates and regular intervals is healthier in the long run than large amounts ingested all at once during periods of intense exercise.


04-14-2005, 11:31
I use a little bit different method of "when to drink" than most.

If my mouth gets dry, or if I'm panting, it's time to drink. This is very different from waiting for body thirst to set in, and it seems to work well for me.

04-14-2005, 14:06
The problem with this though is that hyponatremia exhibits many of the same warning signs as dehydration (apathy, nausea, confusion, and fatigue) . For someone with common sense, it would be pretty obvious which one you are suffering from. But what about the novice, inexperienced hiker? How will they know if they are drinking too much or too little?

04-14-2005, 16:06
Ah..the joys of cut and paste. Something I posted on PCT-l AND AT-L today. :)

Hmm..a similar discussion is being held on another
hiking list. My own .05 worth:

As always, the usual disclaimer: , I am not a
professional medical person in any way, shape, or
form. I have little medical training (EMT-A course
many moons ago). My only knowledge comes from reading
and personal experience. Consult a person who really
knows what they are talkin about (like OB..who **IS**
an MD! :D)

Having said that...

I would think this condition would not affect hikers
as much as say runners, cyclists and other endurance
type atheletes who exert a lot of energy in a
(relatively) short period of time. Most hiker's have a
diet that consists of eating food that is high in
sodium for a good chunk of the day. Their body
probably has a good mix of water and salt to retain
said water w/o "flooding" the body. One of my favorite
items to eat on hikes is chips. I crave them. Based on
how many of my friends eagerly pass around my cache of
chips, I'd say they do too. :)

In my brief time in the long distance running world I
have noticed that I **CRAVE** salt. I am sweating up a
storm. I want pretzels, chips and the oh-so-delcious
chicken noodle soup. As with many activities, your
body tells you what it wants. I suspect with all that
sweating, I am getting rid off too much salt in my
body. The soup esp. goes down like mana from heaven.

Many people new to long distance running make the
mistake of taking in too much water and not enough
food. Have heard stories of people suffering from
hyponatremia during events.

In the hiking world, I suspsect hyponatremia may
affect people doing extensive desert hiking (ala the
PCT) who are drinking too much water and not eating
enough (due to heat, it is common for many people to
not feel like eating), and the fringe group of hikers
who blur the line between running and hiking. They
are working up a huge sweat and may or may not be
eating enough food to go with the water they are


To make this even more PCT related, guess eating
those nice salty chips to go with all the wate would
help alot! I really think it is easy for desert
trekkers to not feel like eating and drink too much

Grab some Pringles in town. Easier to get for
re-supply purposes than many of the so-called sports
drinks. :)

04-14-2005, 16:37
A very good job of cut & paste, too!

One of the take away points of the article (NEJM) is that sports drinks contribute more water than electrolytes, hence can still lead to hyponatremia. I similarly doubt this is a problem in the real world of hiking. I suspect that use of snacks, nuts and such will prevent this from occuring to AT hikers.

04-14-2005, 18:26
Good point that hikers tend to get a lot of sodium in the typical hiker's diet. This would help prevent the problem for us.

04-14-2005, 18:36
Remember in the good old days, when people just used to get thirsty? Now I see people who won't take a quarter mile walk to the corner store without a litre bottle of water.



SGT Rock
04-14-2005, 18:40
I've seen it once while working at PLDC. We had a soldier that was drinking a lot of water but still fell out. His electrolytes had basically been flushed out of his system. To be fair, there were a lot of heat problems and some heat casualties at the time. Basically Land Nav in the summertime at Mt Eden on Ft Knox could put anyone in the hurt box.

Eat regular meals in addition to drinking water. Seems to be the best solution. Oh, and hiking is a relaxation sport. If you are pushing yourself that hard, you need to slow down and enjoy it.

04-14-2005, 18:52
Remember in the good old days, when people just used to get thirsty? Now I see people who won't take a quarter mile walk to the corner store without a litre bottle of water.



Last year, a local magazine (Rocky Mtn Sports..or something like that) on one of the local outdoor lists I read (HEy...I work at an ISP, I am on a computer all day! :D) asked for stories about Nalgene bottles and how you've used them. Gave a typical sarcastic remark:

"I used to use heavy, expensive Naglene bottles. Now I use lighter, less expensive Gatorade bottles. They come with a drink to boot! I had one that fell down a trail in the Sierra and carried it 1200 miles later in BC".

Did not think anything of it until a few months later a friend asked "Hey...is that the famouse Gatorade bottle?".. Huh?

Turns out they used the quote! The title of the article was "IT IS JUST A WATER BOTTLE".

They had all these stories about how "cool" the botttles have become, how everyone carries them, etc. They ended the article with my quote. The anti-Nalgene quote you could say. :) My 1/2 minute of local Boulder fame, I guess!