Drinking water

Drinking Too Much Water – What Happens, Can You Die? Side Effects & Symptoms

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Can you drink too much water? What happens when you take excess aqua? Under what conditions? Can you die? Anyone who has died? What are  the other dangers and side effects?  How much is too much? What are the symptoms that your are taking a lot? Herein, find the answers these questions and more including tips to ensure your taking enough of this essential liquid for life.

Can You Drink Too Much Water? What is it called & Conditions

can you drink too much water?

It is possible to drink more water than you need

It is very important to note that water benefits your body in quite a number of ways. It is a fact that your body cannot survive without water.

Is it possible to drink too much?

The answer here is obvious…yes, it possible to drink a lot of water. As long as you are blessed with a mouth and have access to water, you can consume as much as you can.

What is it called when you drink too much water?

Drinking too much water is fatal condition. It has name. It is referred to as water intoxication/poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia.

Under what conditions will you drink too much?

If you are extremely thirsty then is acceptable that you will require plenty of water.

Other than being thirsty, why else would you drink a lot of water? Most probably because you have heard that eight (8) glasses of water is good for your health…and may be because you have seen all your colleagues with bottles of water wherever they go. You definitely do not want to be left out.

Under what conditions will you drink too much?

If you are extremely thirsty then is acceptable that you will require plenty of water.

Other than being thirsty, why else would you drink a lot of water? Most probably because you have heard that eight (8) glasses of water is good for your health…and may be because you have seen all your colleagues with bottles of water wherever they go. You definitely do not want to be left out.

Other known conditions under which you can take a lot of water include;

  • When participating in water or juice drinking competitions
  • During exercising especially for athletes
  • Water cure, a method of torture in which the victim is forced to consume excessive amounts of water.
  • Excessive water consumption is also a common occurrence for infants under the age of six months.

What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

We have established that you can drink a lot of water. So, what happens when you drink too much water? When you take more than what your body requires, the other nutrients in the body become diluted to a point that they can no longer carry out their functions as required.

To be more specific, it is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium (a salt and of course a nutrient) in your blood is abnormally low.

Have you heard of electrolytes? What are they? Electrolytes are  salt ions that cells use to move fluids and nerve messages into and out of cells and throughout the body. Without electrolytes, your body can’t function. Sodium is an electrolyte and it helps regulate the amount of water that’s in and around your cells.

When you drink a lot of water or rather fluids, the sodium in your body becomes diluted. This state causes the water levels in your body to raise which means your cells will take up more water. It eventually leads to swelling of the cells.

Hypothetically, cells can swell to the point of bursting and can result to several health issues, from mild to severe or even death as you will learn shortly.

Can you die from drinking too much water?

Can drinking too much water kill you? YES! Excessive intake of water especially within a short period can lay you to rest forever. Water is life but if consumed inappropriately it can be a life-taker as well. Water intoxication can actually lead to death. You will shortly find out more about individuals who have died from water intoxication.

How does dying from drinking too much water happen?

The kidneys regulate the amount of water, salts and other solutes leaving your body by sieving blood through their numerous twisted tubules. When you drink too much water in a short span of time, the kidneys cannot flush it out fast enough and the blood gets diluted with lots of water. This causes an imbalance of salt (sodium) within and without your cells.

Do you remember osmosis from your biology classes? It is the movement of water across a semipermeable membrane from higher to lower concentration.

By osmosis, excess water leaves blood (where concentration is low) and enters the cells where concentration of salt and other dissolved substances is higher. For the cells to accommodate the excess water, they’ll be forced to swell like balloons.

Technically, swelling will require a flexible environment. Unfortunately, not all cells have flexible environment.

Cells in majority parts of your body are solidly placed in flexible tissues such as muscle and fat-which offer room for expanding or stretching.

In contrast to other cells in your body, brain cells (neurons) cannot stretch or expand because they are embedded in the skull which is boney and rigid. In fact, the neurons share space with blood and cerebrospinal fluid;  a clear, colorless body fluid found in the brain and spinal cord.

So, when water levels in your body have gone up, the brain cells will take more than enough and this will lead to brain swelling, which ultimately leads to death…this is how you can die from drinking too much water.

Drinking too much Water Deaths-Has Anyone Died from Drinking too much Water?

If you are still doubting if too much water can kill, here are examples of individuals who died from drink too much water.
Matthew Ellis, 29,  died from drinking too much water (around seven litres) after his alcohol may have been ‘spiked with ecstasy’

drinking too much waterMatthew Ellis

Engineer killed by drinking too much water: Excess intake of water can lead to death.

Source Dailymail

Jennifer Strange, 28 was found dead in her home hours after taking part in a water drinking contest. She wanted to win a Wii for her children by drinking the most water without going to the bathroom.

water intoxication death

Jennifer Strange died after water intoxication

Source NBC News

Jacqueline Henson ,a mother of 40 , died after drinking four litres of water in under two hours.Her death was as a result of brain swelling. Her desire was to lose weight.

killed-by-drinking-excess-water-jacqueline-henson

Jackline’s death was caused by brain swelling. Her husband had no idea that too much water can kill.

Source BBC

More Side Effects & Dangers of Water Intoxication

You already know excess of water can kill you. The old saying ‘too much of something is not good’ is applicable here. Excessive water intake can be a total mess to your body and general health. If you’re lucky enough to survive death, following are some of the dangers and bad effects you are likely to experience.

  • Pulmonary edema – this is a condition where water enters the lungs. It results to an abnormal buildup of fluid in the air sacs of the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath and eventually heart failure.
  • As you have already learnt excess water can dilute the electrolytes in your blood and cause low blood-sodium levels (hyponatremia).
  • One of the signs of consuming too much fluid is excessive urination. This continuous flow of fluids out of your body can flush out essential electrolytes, minerals and other compounds
  • Confusion as a result the imbalance of sodium levels in the brain.
  • Low sodium levels can also result in unfriendly conditions such as nausea, coma, lethargy, muscle weakness and spasms, as well as fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Facial swelling or puffiness especially in babies

Frequently asked questions relating to excessive water intake effects

Can you drown yourself from drinking too much water? The answer yes, as you’ve already seen too much water can drown your brain cells and this is fatal.

Can you get sick from drinking too much water? Yes anything that disrupts your normal body functioning makes you unwell. This sickness in this case is water intoxication or poisoning.

Can drinking too much water make you fat & gain weight? Yes, a lot of water once can make you gain some water but not necessarily fat. This type weight is called water weight. It comes about when  your kidneys fail to handle too much water in your body. However, after some time, water weight goes on away on its own.

Can drinking too much water cause erectile dysfunction(ED)? There is not much known on the link between too much water and ED. In fact, water, when taken in correct amount, can improve your sexual health.

Can drinking too much water raise your blood pressure-What is known is that keeping you system well hydrated lowers your blood pressure naturally. Therefore, drinking inadequate water can raise your blood pressure. However, you already know that too much water is not good for your general health. So, even if it wont raise your blood pressure it is not good at all! Not much information is available on how excess water is related to blood pressure raise.

Is drinking too much water when pregnant bad? Yes, it is dangerous. Refer to the above sections. As long it is in excess it is bad!

Can drinking too much water make you throw up? Vomiting and nausea is one the signs of drinking too much water. So the answer here is yes.

Can drinking too much water cause bladder problems?

It is true that taking too much fluid including water can make you rush to the toilet more often. This eventually may overwhelm your bladder. However, owing to the fact that it is just water, chances that it may cause bladder problems are minimal.

Does drinking too much water cause bloating?

Too much water can make you bloated temporarily but it depends on the amount and what is already in your stomach.  If you already have more foods and other fluids in your stomach, taking a lot water can result to bloating.

According to livestrong, medical conditions and other factors that lower the rate at which your is stomach emptying may increase the chances of experiencing temporary bloating when you drink water in excess.

How much is too much Water in One Hour/ a Day

Water is lost from your body through breath, sweating, bowel movements and urine. Because of these losses which of course are normal, you need to consume beverages and foods that contain water for the replenishment purposes. Your body needs water to function properly.

As mentioned earlier, the kidneys are the organs that monitor the amount of water and mineral in your system. Before even going to how much you need in an hour or a day, your kidneys must be functioning well.

Other than the kidneys there are other factors such as your general health can also influence how you will take.

If you are healthy and with no kidney issue, the scientific America states that your kidneys can filter about 800 to 1,000 mL or 0.21 to 0.26 gallons, or four cups of water every hour..

Well, you already that your kidneys can safely handle 4  cups in an hour. What about a day?

According to some experts, the amount of water you need depends on your size and weight, your activity level, the kind of food you take, gender and where you live.

The same experts recommend that on a daily basis, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water per any given day.

If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you are likely to be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less. If you take plenty of food that contain less fluids and more salts, proteins and fibre, you will need more.

According to the Institute of Medicine, men and women should take roughly 3 liters and 2.2 liters respectively.

You should also be aware that drinking 8 glasses of water per day is just but an old myth. There is no scientific evidence to back it up.

Symptoms & Signs of Drinking too much Water

How can you tell that you are taking too much water? The symptoms and signs of drinking too much water than your body requires can be manifested in several ways. In mild cases the symptoms and signs include,

  • Peeing frequently, including during the night
  • Clear pee throughout the day
  • Slight headaches

In severe cases, it is nothing but water intoxication or poisoning. It actually implies that the sodium in your body is abnormally low, pure hyponatremia. The symptoms include;

  • Headache
  • Loss of energy
  • Facial swelling or puffiness in babies
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

How to ensure you are Drinking Enough Watertips drinking too much water

  1. Listen to your body. Your body has its own mechanism of telling you when you need to drink more water. Actually, your body produces another 250mls of water a day when metabolising substances in the body, such as starch, protein and fat. This amount is in a addition to what you get from food and fluids.
  2. Avoid water/fluid drinking contests.
  3. Always think before you take an action. Don’t just do it because others are doing it. Find supporting information or simply enquire from a certified doctor or professional.
  4. Almost a liter/litre of water is obtained from the food that we eat. You really don’t need to carry a bottle of water to wherever you go. It is not only water that contributes to your total fluid, other foods do too. Examples include watermelon, tea, coffee, milk and yogurt, etc.

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