causes, signs and how to avoid it

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causes signs and how to avoid it

When it comes to water, how much is too much? You know you need plenty of H2O to stay healthy and keep your body running, but did you know you can drink too much and compromise your system? Is named water intoxication and can be deadly.

Stories of fatal encounters with water intoxication

Take, for example, the student at the Chico State University, Matthew Carrington. Carrington joined the Chi Tau house fraternity in 2005, and was participating in their hazing rituals to get in. He had to drink a five gallon bottle of water.

The student was only 21 years old, but this amount of water was too large for his system to handle. Carrington developed hyponatremia, which, according to the National Library of Medicine, is a condition in which the body absorbs a large amount of water and sodium levels drop rapidly. The fluid is absorbed into the bloodstream instead of being eliminated, and the water reaches the brain.

Another example of how this turned into a deadly tragedy occurred with Jennifer Strange. She entered a radio contest to win a game system. She had to see how much water she could drink without going to the bathroom.

The contest was billed as “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”. But the 28-year-old would never have taken such a risk if she had known better. She had three children and was trying to win the game console as a gift for her children.

Can the water be so dangerous that drinking too much can cause death?
Can you drink too much without knowing it?
How much is too much?
These are all questions that stories like this have people asking, especially those trying to hydrate their bodies when doing strenuous physical activities and labor-intensive jobs.

What causes water intoxication?

It is often referred to as poison water, but know that it is rare. The average person will get such a condition just by drinking a few bottles every day. The problem occurs when you take in significant amounts of water and your system can’t get rid of it fast enough.

All the excess fluid has nowhere to go, so it backs up and enters the bloodstream. Once it enters your blood, it travels to every part of your system. However, the most dangerous part is your brain.

Your body has electrolytes that are responsible for keeping your cells ionized. When water floods these cells, the electrolyte balance becomes unbalanced. Have you seen sports drinks that restore your potassium, sodium and magnesium?

These are all part of your vital electrolytes that are necessary for your body to function. Now, too much water in a short period can be toxic. Also, when it enters the brain, it can cause swelling. However, sports drinks are made primarily with water, so while they help some with electrolytes, they can also cause water intoxication.

5 types of people most susceptible to water intoxication

You are in no danger of drinking more water than your system can handle from just consuming a few bottles each day. However, the real threat comes when you exercise or do intensive work that makes you drink to rehydrate. The chances of you dealing with water intoxication They are rare, but it happens. Here are some situations where being intoxicated by too much water it becomes a reality.

People with mental health problems are more prone to water intoxication

Who knew there was a mental health condition where people felt compelled to drink water? Psychogenic polydipsia is a mental illness where people feel the need to hydrate their bodies and can’t seem to get enough. According to the National Library of Medicine, this mental health problem comes with other psychiatric conditions, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, so it doesn’t usually occur on its own.

Physicians should be alert to any symptom of drinking too much water in a short period or symptoms of hyponatraemia.

Athletes – Specifically Runners

While any athlete can get intoxicated from drinking water, it is most commonly experienced by runners. In this case, it’s called dilutional hyponatremia, and it doesn’t just happen to water drinkers, drinking sports drinks won’t save you.

In 2002, a study was conducted and reported in the National Library of Medicine after the Boston Marathon. Authorities found that more than 13 percent of the participants suffered from water intoxication.

Workers who overstrain their bodies

There are many situations where you sweat and try to replenish lost water in the body. However, it is difficult to measure how much you have consumed when you are still thirsty. For example, someone doing roofing work in the summer heat is at significant risk, especially if they don’t control their intake.

While replacing some of that water is essential, maintaining electrolyte balance is also important.

Babies are subject to water intoxication

One of the main reasons babies are at risk is their low body mass index. Water intoxication is typically seen in infants under one year of age. When a young child consumes a large amount of water compared to her body mass, she can throw her sodium storage out of balance, which can lead to a state of intoxication.

unaware people

When a person is in a coma or unconscious, they receive hydration through intravenous lines. Some examples of this would be patients using a nasogastric tube. The medical team must ensure that the fluids administered are balanced so that there is no loss of electrolytes. They co-manage the water.

When people have a medical condition, such as diabetes insipidus, they are more likely to process fluids more quickly than someone who does not have the disorder. According to information from diabetes insipidus, causes a person to have a great thirst that requires water. However, they urinate more due to increased water intake, which leaves electrolytes out of balance.

6 Telltale Signs of Water Intoxication

How do you know if you’ve drunk more water than is safe? Are there symptoms that you can identify that show you are over the limit? These are some of the most common indications of water intoxication.

colorless urine

Your urine should have some color, even if it’s just a pale straw hue. However, when your urine is colorless, it is concerning. If you have drunk more than eight or ten glasses of water and your urine is clear, see a doctor.


Most people don’t know that a headache is a sign of dehydration. When you have a headache, you reach for an over-the-counter treatment. However, it is often the drink of water that helps more than the aspirin.

If you have a throbbing headache and have consumed a lot of water, it may mean you are water intoxicated.

frequent urination

The average person needs to urinate between 6 and 8 times a day. Anything more than urinating ten times a day is a sign that you’re also discharging electrolytes.

Swelling of hands, feet, legs

Large amounts of water cause the cells in your body to expand, which your swollen limbs can identify. Not only will you notice swelling in your hands and feet, but you’ll also see them change color due to loss of circulation.

Muscular weakness

When there is an imbalance of electrolytes in the body, it will cause things like cramps and muscle spasms. A little coconut water or a sports drink can help balance things out.


When your body becomes overloaded with water, your kidneys must work overtime to cleanse your system. Any time one of your organs is working harder than it should, it can cause you to feel fatigued. Even having the energy to get out of bed can be a bit much, so this is certainly something to watch.

Other things to keep in mind include these:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bradycardia, or a slower heart rate
  • Pulmonary edema

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