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Date Sent:      August 10, 2007
Subject:           hyponatremia - the importance of eating salt while hiking
From:               John Bondon
Special thanks to Andrew for leading last week's hike to Pleasanton Ridge. Andrew reports, " We had 30 hikers on a cool and breezy day. Yes, we got spread out, but we all finished. We also had 1 brown and 2 black doggies that loved the ponds. " Ohh, my dog, Casper, would have been so jealous if he only knew what he missed that weekend! But lucky for him, he got to frolic in the water as well up at Lake Shasta ... and then in a much needed bath too... though he probably wouldn't describe the bath part as "frolicking". :)

On a different note, a hiking tip I've been meaning to pass on for some time now that I read about in a first responder/first aid type email list I am a member of and thought this might be of interest to you as well. Personally I've always downplayed the significance of eating salty snacks while hiking, but now I'm starting to understand the importance of doing so. (For those of you unfamilar with the "SAMPLE" reference below, this is the method by which medics and other caregivers use to perform a patient assessment. Learn more about it here.)

Since it is so hot right now in California, thought I would send out some information on a condition that is being seen more and more often. The Grand Canyon became aware of the problem in 1989 or so. According to one article, this condition accounts for more than 30% of the heat related complications seen at the Grand Canyon Clinic. This is a concern for hikers, runners, cyclists, etc. And then there is the college kid who died in a fraternity hazing in Chico or the mom who died after participating in a radio show contest in Sacramento.

The problem is: hyponatremia , or over-hydration and not enough electrolytes. The site is an article about this topic - by a woman who works at Grand Canyon and has been involved in many of the Grand Canyon studies on this topic.

When coming across a hiker, your challenge will be to determine heat exhaustion/heat stroke versus hyponatremia. Key question to ask is the L question in SAMPLE: Last input and output. If input involves several liters of fluid and not much salty foods in last few hours, not thirsty, and clear and copious urine output, then be thinking hyponatremia. This person needs a gradual intake of salty foods and no fluids (including electrolyte drinks). According to Dr Myers at the Grand Canyon clinic. Drink lots, yes, but also eat salty foods regularly when exercising in heat. "Relying on electrolyte drinks alone is absolutely ill advised. Nothing wrong with the electrolyte drinks, but don't forget to eat as well."

So a little salt on a hot sweaty day is good idea after all! :)

A Preview of some of our upcoming hikes, by the hike leader(s) themselves:

Helene says of the upcoming Mount Diablo Twin Peaks/Mitchell Rock Loop hike: "Join us for a hike exploring both the peaks and valleys of Mount Diablo, co-sponsored by the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association.".

Andrew says of the upcoming Morgan Creek Trail hike: "We can snack at Morgan Territory Rd. Please bring enough to share with Howard and myself.".

As always, you'll find more details about each of our upcoming hikes posted on the East Bay Casual Hiking website.

Happy Trails! :)

Happy Trails,


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