Drinking Too Much Water Can Be Fatal

Guzzling too much water can make you seriously ill and could even be deadly. An Indiana mother of two died last month after consuming an estimated 64 ounces of water in just 20 minutes. For clarity, that’s how much water the average human should drink in an entire day. Water toxicity — also known as water poisoning — occurs when too much water is consumed in a short period of time, or if the kidneys retain too much water due to underlying health conditions. Over-hydration can impair brain function by increasing the amount of water in the blood, causing sodium levels to dip dangerously low. Decreased sodium levels — referred to as hyponatremia in extreme cases — results in exterior cell fluid traveling into cells and causing swelling. In brain cells, this could be fatal. Though it’s difficult to achieve, water poisoning typically occurs while over-hydrating during a sporting event or in hot climates. Water toxicity can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and in extreme cases, drowsiness, muscle cramps or fatigue, double vision, high blood pressure, confusion or difficulty in breathing. Medical attention is vital to prevent fatal brain swelling. How much water is too much? The gold standard is 8 glasses of water (64 ounces) a day for the average person. Drinking more fluids than the kidneys can eliminate per hour — approximately 1 quart — will lead to over-hydration.