Underwater

Written By Storm Cuthbert and Janie Harris

From the moment someone steps onto a field or court, they are warned about the
consequences of not drinking enough water. Athletes across the nation are being educated
about dehydration, but athletes rarely are warned about what might happen if they drink
too much.

According to CBS News, Zyrees Oliver, a Douglas County resident, died after
apparently drinking over four gallons of liquid after his high school football practice. He
over-hydrated.

Water is constantly leaving the body through sweat and urination especially for
athletes, so hydration is important. An overdose on water can cause seizures, coma or
even death. According to WebMD water intoxication is usually caused by a lack of
sodium within the body. Drinking too much water in a short about of times can overload
your body and lead to a disruption in normal brain function due to the imbalance of
electrolytes in your body’s fluids. In fact, one case case of water intoxication appeared in
1991 when pop artist and cultural icon, Andy Warhol was pronounced dead in a New
York hospital. According to Warhol’s lawyer, Bruce Clark, the New York Hospital
negligently pumped more than twice the required volume of fluids into Mr. Warhol when
he underwent gallbladder surgery. This resulted in internal pressure and caused his death
from heart failure.

Oliver’s case was different. The fluid caused his brain to swell. The 17-year-old
football player was getting ready to begin his senior year of high school when he
collapsed in his home. He was put on a ventilator, and after five days and a doctor telling the family there was no brain activity, the family decided to remove the ventilator. The doctor announced him dead shortly after according the CBS News.

Could this happen at Piedmont?

While this sort of event is rare in itself, over-hydration can affect anyone.
Piedmont does its best to avoid this from happening. According to the Director of
Intercollegiate Athletics for Piedmont College, John Dzik, the athletic department
attempts to educate athletes as best as they can about the dangers of drinking too much or
too little water. He explained it is the athletic trainers who are on the front lines of this
issue.

Matt McKinney, the head athletic trainer at Piedmont College, said that while he
has heard of people having issues with over-hydration he has never personally come
across the issue. He commonly deals with dehydration, and the training staff pays close
attention to the athletes’ hydration patterns. They make sure to answer the question, “Is
the athlete drinking too much or too little?” According to Dzik, the trainers monitor the
athletes’ weight throughout the year. If an athlete has dropped a large amount of weight
in one practice, the athlete is probably not hydrating enough.

If someone was over-hydrating, his or her first signs could include confusion,
nausea and vomiting. Over-hydration causes the sodium in one’s body to be deluded.
This can cause one’s brain to swell along with a number of other issues.
But how much water are you supposed to drink? Many Americans have been told
that eight glasses of water is the correct amount of water to consume per day, but that is
not always the case.

In 1945, the eight-by-eight glass rule was found in a government report. The
report recommended eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day, which was supported by
scientific proof. According to Scientific American, Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of
physiology from Dartmouth Medical School, went back and did an extensive search in
2002, finding no scientific proof of the rule.

The Institute of Medicine sets general guidelines for total water consumption.
They recommend that women consume a total of 91 ounces (2.7 liters) per day, from all
food and beverages combined. For men, it’s about 125 ounces (3.7 liters) a day.
At times, over-hydration can go unrecognized. And while it is a rare condition, it
could happen to anyone.

 

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Photo By Nicole Columbo – Matt Steven