Jan 29, 2015
HS Death Blamed On Overhydration

It appears that overhydration is the cause of death for a high school football player in Georgia who was recently taken off life support due to a lack of brain activity. Having complained of cramping during football practice on Tuesday at Douglas County High School, 17-year-old Zyrees Oliver reportedly returned home and drank two gallons of water and two more gallons of Gatorade. Hours later, he was rushed to the hospital. Relatives say he suffered massive swelling around the brain as a result of over-hydration. An autopsy is planned.

Cherie Miner, MD, a physician at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., told WBRC.com., that while overhydration cases are rare, drinking a large amount of water during a short period of time depletes sodium levels in your body, which causes all the water to shift throughout the body.

“You can’t pee it out fast enough,” said Miner. “It goes into your cells in your body. When it goes into the cells of your brain, the brain expands causing your brain to be herniated. Therefore cause brain death. It’s acute onset. All of a sudden they’ll start to feel nauseous, get confused, may show swelling of hands, feet, and arms.”

To prevent overhydration, Miner recommends frequently drinking small amounts of water.

As preseason practices around the country kick into high gear, athletes, coaches, and sports medicine professionals are constantly reminded about the dangers of dehydration and heat illness. However, as in Oliver’s case, those conversations should also include directions for safe consumption of liquids.

The July/August issue of T&C features an article from John Moyer, Jr., LAT, ATC, Athletic Trainer at Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pa.on taking a team approach to prevent heat illness. You can find that article here.

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