The Importance of Dietary Sodium
This post has described several ways that proper fluid-electrolyte balance helps to optimize physical performance and reduce the risk of heat illness. In fact, all of the heat illnesses below may be treated with either oral or IV fluids table Therefore, it is reasonable to ask the question, How much salt is required to maintain physical performance and health? and Do active people, who work or compete in hot environments, require more salt than sedentary individuals? The paragraphs below focus on sodium, one of the elements in table salt NaCl, because sodium is considered to be the body’s most important electrolyte. It is involved in the regulation of water movement between the intracellular and extracellular compartments, nerve conduction, cellular metabolism, and the maintenance of blood volume, osmolarity, and pressure. Because sodium is constantly being lost from the kidneys, eccrine sweat glands, salivary glands, and gastrointestinal tract, and because sodium is consumed in most foods and beverages, the human body must regulate the sodium concentration of all body fluids closely. As noted earlier, if plasma sodium levels decrease, the hormone aldosterone is released from the adrenal cortex, and the loss of sodium is reduced in urine, sweat, and saliva.
Prior to World War II, supplemental dietary sodium intake was viewed as an asset by the medical community and media. Citizens were advised to increase their consumption ofNaCl during periods of hot weather; salt was used extensively as a preservative for foods, and it was added in large amounts to many foods peanuts, pickles, pretzels, potato chips to enhance their flavor. After World War II,
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Rest and cooling increase venous blood flow to the heart. Typical losses during a work shift in physical activity that preceded overt illnesses and harsh conditions areL water and NaCl. the point at which temperature was first recorded. Sweating is profuse. Mental function and thermoregulation are mildly impaired. Acclimatization reduces the incidence of symptoms. See table pageThermoregulatory overload or failure. Rectal temperature ofF or higher. Other symptoms include elevated serum enzymes, vomiting, diarrhea, coma, convulsions, and impairment of mental function and temperature regulation. Sweating may or may not be present. Onset may be rapid in patients who have been exercising. See table page .
Replace these orally or with IV fluids.
The prognosis is best when mental acuity is not altered and when serum enzymes are not elevated. Immediate return to work/exercise is not advisable except in the mildest cases; allow -for recovery. Serious complications are very rare, unless prolonged hyperthermia is involved.
A true medical emergency. Water immersion not only provides the fastest cooling rate when rectal temperature is .C F but also improves venous return and cardiac output via skin vasoconstriction and the effects of hydrostatic pressure. The mortality rate – is directly related to the duration and intensity of hyperthermia as well as the speed and effectiveness of diagnosis and whole-body cooling.
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