US Woman Dies of 'Water Intoxication': How to Keep Your Water Intake in Check?

While this is a rare consequence of water toxicity, here are some of the signs, symptoms of overhydration.

3 min read
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A 35-year-old US woman, identified as Ashley Summers, reportedly collapsed and died due to what is known as 'water toxicity.' According to multiple media reports, she expressed feeling a sense of 'extreme dehydration', when she was out with her family on 4 July weekend.

Devon Miller, Ashley’s brother told WRTV: "Someone said she drank 4 bottles of water in 20 minutes."

"I mean, an average water bottle is like 16 ounces, so that was 64 ounces that she drank in a span of 20 minutes. That’s half a gallon. That’s what you’re supposed to drink in a whole day."

While this is representative of a rare consequence of water toxicity, here are some of the signs, symptoms and precautions which will help you prevent overhydration which leads to water toxicity. 


What is overhydration?

Overhydration happens typically when one drinks large amounts of water in a small period of time or the kidney is unable to get rid of the excess water in the body. It leads to the dilution of the sodium in our body, lower to what is crucial for its functioning. This leads to a condition which is known as hyponatremia or water intoxication. 

It is important to keep the sodium levels in check as they are responsible for the balance of fluids inside and outside the cell.

Consumption of excess water in the body will cause the cells to fill up with liquid causing them to swell.


What are some symptoms of overhydration?

Dr Amit Varma, a reputed physician and an expert in all facets of healthcare, explained the concept for an earlier article on FIT. He said:

"The terrifying thing about water intoxication’s symptoms is that they match those of heat exhaustion and even dehydration."

One can suspect water intoxication when we observe: 

  • Nausea and vomiting 

  • Dizziness 

  • Headache 

  • Confusion 

  • Disorientation 

  • Drowsiness 

  • Muscle cramps 

  • Clear urine multiple times a day

Dr Varma further suggests that if someone exhibits the signs or symptoms of water intoxication, we can ask them about their water intake. 


What causes overhydration or water intoxication?

While one of the primary causes of overhydration maybe drinking a lot of water in short periods of time; some other reasons for overhydration may include:

  • Excess water during intense physical training; such as in army camps. 

  • Significant rise in water causing a perceived need to drink water.

  • Inability of the kidney to flush out excess water due to disease.

  • Psychogenic polydipsia - Psychological disorder leading to consumption of big amounts of water.

  • Use of certain drugs.


How can you prevent overhydration?

There are some alternatives to excess water consumption which one can take to prevent overhydration – these include alternating water with electrolytes, such as coconut water, lemonade, buttermilk, etc. especially when one is being exposed to heat.

So, how much water should you actually drink?

According to the National Academy of Medicine, the water in take differs based on one’s gender. It is therefore recommended that men drink approximately 13 cups of water in a day, while women have around 9 cups of water in a day.

This however, is not the target as one’s weight, level of physical activities, etc. will also factor in the water that they aptly require.

When it comes to consumption of water it is absolutely imperative that one is mindful to avoid any risks that may be related to overhydration!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Water   Dehydration   Drinking Water 

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