Fluid Balance and Dehydration in the Young Athlete Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Many young athletes train and compete under conditions that put their body fluid balance at risk, and hypohydration is usually the major concern. Another less frequent condition is hyperhydration that—if accompanied by other risk factors—may cause hyponatremia. Water and electrolyte losses during physical activities occur primarily from sweat. Such losses have been identified mostly in active (but nonathletic) young populations under laboratory settings. Studies have been trying to estimate fluid losses in the athletic population under field conditions, taking into account the sport modality and environmental conditions. Besides these external conditions, young athletes adopt different drinking attitudes, which may depend on knowledge, education, and the opportunities to drink during the break periods as well as fluid availability. Focusing on the young athlete, this review will discuss water and sodium losses from sweat, the effects of hypohydration on performance, and fluid intake attitudes within and during practices and competitions. Some considerations related to the methods of identifying hydration status and guidelines are also given, with the understanding that they should be individually adapted for the athlete and activity. The young athlete, parents, coaches, and athletic/health professionals should be aware of such information to prevent fluid imbalances and the consequent hazardous effects on performance and health.

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publication date

  • November 2012