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Exertional hyponatremia among active component members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 2008-2023.

MSMR 2024 April 21
Exertional hyponatremia, or exercise-associated hyponatremia, occurs within 24 hours after physical activity due to a serum, plasma, or blood sodium concentration (Na+) below the normal reference range of 135 mEq/L. If not detected early and managed properly, hyponatremia can be fatal. From 2008 to 2023, 1,812 cases of exertional hyponatremia were diagnosed among U.S. active component service members (ACSMs), with an overall incidence rate of 8.3 cases per 100,000 person-years (p-yrs). In 2023 there were 153 cases of exertional hyponatremia diagnosed among ACSMs, resulting in a crude incidence rate of 11.7 per 100,000 p-yrs. Female service members, those older than 40, non-Hispanic Black service members, Marine Corps members, recruits, those in combat-specific occupations, and ACSMs stationed in the Northeast U.S. region had higher incidence rates of exertional hyponatremia diagnoses than their respective counterparts. During the surveillance period, annual rates of incident exertional hyponatremia diagnoses peaked in 2010 (12.8 per 100,000 p-yrs) and then decreased to a low of 5.3 cases per 100,000 p-yrs in 2013. Thereafter the incidence rate fluctuated but has increased from 6.2 per 100,000 p-yrs in 2017 to its second-highest level in 2023. Service members and their supervisors should be aware of the dangers of excessive fluid consumption and prescribed limits for consumption during prolonged physical activity including field training exercises, personal fitness training, or recreational activities, particularly in hot, humid weather.

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