Drinking large quantities of water may lead to water intoxication. Some people indulge in consuming large quantities of water, either to reduce weight or for other health reasons. However, it is important to understand the risks associated with high intake of water.
Water is the elixir of life, however, the popular saying, too much of anything is bad, is valid in this case as well.
So what is the optimum amount of water to be taken and how not to overdo it? But first, it is important to understand how excess water can kill a person.
According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, although water intoxication also known as hyponatremia is not largely acknowledged in medical literature, it can occur under certain circumstances. During the early stages, the condition is generally not recognised and the person suffering from it may develop symptoms of disorientation, nausea and confusion. If it is not detected at early stages, it can lead to hyponatraemia, coma, seizures and can even be fatal.
A woman died by drinking water for radio show
In January 2007, a 28-year-old woman participated in a radio-based “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest, wherein the hosts asked listeners how much water can they drink without going to the washroom. The incident happened in Rancho Cordova, California, USA, where Jennifer Strange, after listening to the radio show drank lots of water and prevented herself from relieving herself in the washroom. She was later found dead at her home. Medical personnel who attended to her body, could not confirm how much quantity of water she consumed, however, it was declared that she died of water intoxication. The prize for winning the trivial contest was a video game system. The radio station fired ten employees after the tragedy.
The incident turned everybody’s attention to the intriguing subject of death due to access water intake. Mentioning the particular case, several experts shared their insights on what actually happened to Jennifer, who had complained of severe headaches to one of her co-workers, before her death.
In the condition of hyponatremia, the sodium count in the blood decreases massively, as the person has consumed lots of water. The electrolyte balance of the body is distorted and it can lead to swelling of the brain or cardiac arrest.
What conditions cause hyponatremia?
Hyponatremia is the state of low sodium in the blood and it can also happen without excessive intake of water. According to an article published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinol and Metabolism, there are many factors that contribute to the development of the condition in the body. People who perform rigorous physical exercise, such as marathon running, older people, and those undergoing extensive military or defence-force training are at risk. This primarily happens when the electrolyte levels are somehow disturbed within the body. The initial 48 hours of the condition are very crucial and if symptoms appear, medical attention must be given. Also, the condition is termed as chronic after 48 hours, by the authors of the paper.
It is very important to maintain a standard water intake level on a daily basis as per an article published by Harvard University, online. It states there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to deciding the amount of water intake per person. However, if you are not sure about how much you should consume, consult a doctor.