It’s Not Just Water: Here’s How Drinking Too Much Can Kill You

It’s Not Just Water: Here’s How Drinking Too Much Can Kill You

Are you getting enough water? Or maybe, too much? Drinking too much water can actually be bad for you, and in extreme cases, kill you.

Most people have trouble drinking enough water daily, if you follow the guidelines.

But we still survive. Others, however, do not.

The medical world commonly advises that you drink a total of 8 glasses of water in 24 hours. With dry indoor heat in cold climates, and hot air outside in warm ones, many of us go around slightly dehydrated in life.

On the flip side though, some people go above and beyond and actually drink too much water. And the effects are devastating.

Take the tragic case of Jennifer Strange, for instance. According to a report on scientificamerican.com, this 28-year-old woman from California woman died after drinking too much water.

She was competing in a radio station’s contest. The competition required participants to drink as much water as they could, on-air, and then try to hold their pee for as long as possible.

Related: Four Ways to Make Water Less Boring to Drink

The gain? Winners got a free Wii.

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But Strange fatally ingested 6 liters of water in three hours. She is said to have then developed a splitting headache, thrown up, returned home and later died of water intoxication.

And she’s not the only one. Scientificamerican.com goes on to tell of another water victim who died back in 2005. A 21-year old young man named Matthew Carrington was participating in a fraternity hazing at California State University, when he died of water intoxication. He was forced to drink enormous amounts of water while doing round of push-ups.

Related: Unsafe Levels of Industrial Chemicals Have Been Found in Drinking Water in 33 U.S States

And cbsnews.com reports on how 17-year-old Zyrees Oliver, an athlete from Georgia died from drinking too much water and Gatorade at a weekend football practice. Tragic.

What Happens

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So, what happens when you ingest too much H2O? Overhydration has many symptoms. It can cause nausea, vomiting, terrible headaches and mental confusion or disorientation.

In severe cases, you might experience muscle cramps or weakness, seizures and even a coma.

The main problem is that when you drink too much water, the levels of sodium in your body dive way too low. There isn’t enough in your blood anymore.

Related: These New Healthy Eating Rules Say Salt and Fat Are OK

This causes your electrolyte and potassium levels to go way out of whack, throwing off your body’s delicate balance. Fluids in your body shift from being outside your cells, as they normally are, to being inside, which causes everything, including your brain, to swell.

Who’s At Risk

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If you’re an endurance athlete, or if you suffer from kidney problems, diabetes, or excessive thirst problems, you should likely monitor how much water you drink. Even marathoners at famous races like the Boston Marathon have been victims of overhydration, so it can clearly happen to anyone.

Patients who suffer from schizophrenia have also been known to drink too much water, as a complication of their mental condition.

Your doctor is the best person to turn to for advice.

How Much You Should Drink

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Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your water intake. Drinking too little? Taking in too much? In general, experts advise that you only drink up to 1 liter of fluid every hour, and no more than that. Get a water bottle with measurements on the side, and if you’re still not sure, eat something salty along the way.

Stay safe.

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