Water - Can It Be Too Much Of A Good Thing? - Herbs Info

Water – Can It Be Too Much Of A Good Thing?

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Did you know that even drinking water could be lethal? Just like any other food or beverage, water may negatively affect the body when consumed in excessive amounts. Death by water is officially known in the medical community as water intoxication which is known among athletes who accidentally over-hydrate while training or among young people who challenge themselves to water drinking contests. [1]

Drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time could cause the level of salt or sodium in your blood to drop too low. Doctors also refer to this condition as hyponatremia which is characterized by the dilution of the blood due to drinking too much water. [2] Extreme sports athletes such as marathoners are the number one victims of hyponatremia. [3]

Sodium plays an important role in balancing the fluids in and around your cells. When your water intake exceeds the required amount, an imbalance in sodium levels occurs, causing the water to move from your blood to inside your cells. This makes them bloated like balloons – an injury called cellular swelling. [4]

The human kidneys control the amount of water, salts, and other solutes leaving the body by filtering blood through their millions of twisted tubules. When a person drinks too much water, sodium imbalance happens and eventually leads to cellular swelling.

Cellular swelling is extremely disastrous for neurons or brain cells. Brain swelling is an aftermath of hyponatremia and manifests as seizures, coma, respiratory arrest, brain stem herniation, and death. A person is stricken with hyponatremia when he experiences diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. He may also have a headache and just feel terrible.

Other Signs Of Water Intoxication Include:

•• Dilated pupils
•• Slow heart rate
•• Sudden increase of body weight
•• Bluish discoloration
•• Increased frequency of breathing
•• Decreased or increased blood pressure
•• Rigid posture

There Are Several Measures To Help You Prevent Or Correct Hyponatremia:

•• Drink isotonic beverages during demanding activities
•• Drink water in moderation during high-intensity activities
•• Consume adequate dietary sodium
•• Avoid drinking more that you sweat and pee out
•• Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of low blood sodium

In a hydration-obsessed culture, guzzling plenty of fresh water is regarded as healthful. However, there are no actual scientific studies supporting the benefits offered by drinking eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Drinking this much or more could precipitate hyponatremia, according to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. [5]

How much water does it take to kill a person? According to YouTube video produced by the American Chemistry Society, it takes about six liters (1.58 US Gallons) of water to cause death in a 165-pound person. [6] But this should not be a cause for panic. Although it is a surprise that just this amount of water would kill you, you would have to try pretty hard to drink this much. So like all things, moderation is key. Stay hydrated but don’t force too much down.


[1] D.J. Farrell and L. Bower. October 2003. Journal of Clinical Pathology. Fatal water intoxication. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1770067/

[2] Eric E. Simon. July 26, 2016. Medscape. Hyponatremia. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/242166-overview

[3] Surgenor S et al. July 1994. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Acute hyponatremia in ultra-endurance athletes. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0735675794900574

[4] Jurkowitz-Alexander MS et al. July 1992. Journal of Neurochemistry. Cell swelling, blebbing, and death are dependent on ATP depletion and independent of calcium during chemical hypoxia in a glial cell line (ROC-1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1613511

[5] Heinz Valtin. November 2002. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8 × 8”? http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/283/5/R993

[6] YouTube/Reactions. American Chemistry Society. How Much Water Can Kill You? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvcbIXvWl_k

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