For Marathoners, Carbohydrate Loading Is Not Enough
WebMD News Archive
All the marathoners in the study had taken drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen
and naproxen sodium.
"Research has shown that ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), ketoprofen
(Orudis), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) affect kidney function. So only
acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be used after midnight on race days," says
Maharam. "But all of them are good for muscle pain afterward, once nausea
has resolved and urine is clear yellow."
Maharam cautions that women are at special risk of depleting their sodium
levels. "Women appear to have a higher risk for sodium depletion than men,
but not because of physiology," he says. "Most first-time marathoners
are women and they're still learning. Fortunately, most women don't develop any
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.