In a Coroner’s report on the death of a bushwalker in Tasmania it was found that death was most likely due to “exercise induced hyponatraemia” (EAH) i.e. a situation where the amount of sodium salt in the circulation is abnormally low due to dilution by an excessive amount of water intake. This situation has been discussed previously on this website in respect of death on the Kokoda Trail (see below ‘KOKODA TRACK AND OVER-HYDRATION - 5 th March 2011).
A medical expert's report prepared for the coroner said EAH sufferers had trouble concentrating and typically end up confused. In this situation the ability to concentrate and solve the 'I'm lost' problem is diminished significantly. If the situation continues coma and death can result. The expert was highly critical of the general public perception that one should drink "as much as possible" and avoid becoming dehydrated during prolonged strenuous exercise. The Coroner commented that there is a need for greater education in the community in relation to the danger associated with excessive consumption of fluid during exercise.