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U.S. medical experts are warning against marathon gaming binges after an Ohio teenager was admitted to hospital suffering severe dehydration following a multiple-day Modern Warfare 3 session.
The boy, 15-year old Tyler Rigsby, spent four days ("maybe five," says his mother) locked in his bedroom with his Xbox 360, occasionally surfacing for a bathroom break or to grab something to eat. The rest of the time, he was logged into Infinity Ward's award-winning shooter.
Tuesday morning, Rigsby and his mother visited his aunt, where both women noticed something wasn't right.
Aunt Jennifer Thompson explains:
It's like he was looking at me but he wasn't there. It was like he was looking through me. We were talking and I heard a thump and I looked over and he just fell.
Rigsby collapsed three times that morning, with Jessie Rawlins commenting that her son's lips turned blue:
I was very scared. I thought he was going to die. He just fell over three times.
An ambulance was called, and Rigsby was taken to hospital and diagnosed with severe dehydration. He was immediately attached to an IV drip and "pumped full of fluids".
Even though Rigsby had apparently eaten a little food over the four day period of gaming, it was reportedly not enough to keep his body healthy. Emergency physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Dr. Mike Patrick, reminds local media that dehydration is potentially deadly.
When you're dehydrated, the amount of fluid in your entire body is decreased and that includes the fluid that's in your blood vessels. So you have decreased blood volume. That leads to decreased blood pressure. When your blood pressure gets to a certain point, you're unable to get enough blood up to the brain. If you're not getting enough oxygen to the brain, that can cause you to pass out and it could cause you to die.
In addition to that, the changes to blood chemistry caused by dehydration can lead to the formation of blood clots, which can move to your heart, lungs or brain, and kill you (this is suspected in the recent case of the Taiwanese gamer who died after a 40 hour binge on Diablo III).
Patrick also explains that even if you might like to stay awake for long periods, your brain has other ideas.
After so long, it stops firing and you just go to sleep whether you want to or not.
You, eventually, run out of those chemicals. Your body needs sleep to replenish that activating system to keep you awake.
Patrick - and other medical practitioners - recommend using common sense when gaming. Make sure you eat enough, drink lots of water (try to stay away from caffeinated soda), and put the controller down from time to time and take a nap. If you can manage it, take some breaks for physical activity, too - get those muscles moving!
As for Tyler Rigsby, the experience is not one he's hoping to repeat. His mother says both of them have learned a serious lesson, and while she's happy her son's condition was not more serious, he has still been punished:
The Xbox is gone.
...reportedly, Rigsby is fine with that.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek