For Marathoners, Carbohydrate Loading Is Not Enough
But for those who do, medical personnel use a standard protocol for
exercise-related collapse. "We use a series of simple techniques to
stimulate blood flow to vital organs," says Maharam. "But if racers
don't feel better after 30 minutes, we transport them to a local
Before local marathons, emergency physicians are briefed on patient
"We treated and released four women with sodium loss during a recent
marathon," Sterling Huff, DO, tells WebMD. The medical director of
emergency services at Houston's St. Joseph's Hospital adds, "But we were
coached to check sodium immediately, and it made a big difference in patient
- Sodium loss from intense exercise can cause excess fluid in the brain and
lungs. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, seizures, and large amounts
of pink saliva.
- Emergency treatment includes intravenous therapy with salt solution.
- To prevent sodium loss, marathoners should use table salt before races,
consume sports drinks during races, and eat salted pretzels in the second
- Some over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and
naproxen sodium affect kidney function; only acetaminophen should be used after
midnight on race days.