With that being said, it is possible to be sodium-deficient if you overexert yourself and lose excessive amounts of sodium in sweat. On the flip side, you can drive your sodium levels down by drinking too much water and diluting its concentration.
Both of these things can lead to a potentially dangerous condition known as hyponatremia. With hyponatremia, the extreme loss of sodium can trigger symptoms ranging from muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness to shock, coma, and death.
This is why athletes are routinely advised to consume electrolyte-rich sports drinks during strenuous activities to compensate for the loss of sodium and other essential minerals.
In term of the excessive consumption of water, it generally doesn’t happen in daily life as you would need to drink no less than six gallons of water for many days or weeks before it becomes an issue. However, if you drink too much during an endurance event, such as a marathon, you can quickly develop hyponatremia even if it’s a sports drink.
This is because our kidneys can eliminate between five and eight gallons of water a day but can’t get rid of more than 27 to 33 ounces per hour. As a result, endurance athletes are today advised to drink when thirsty rather than forcing extra fluids.
There are other conditions that can cause hyponatremia by either depleting fluid level or causing the excessive retention of fluids. This is especially true among older adults who take medications or have medical conditions that place them at risk.