Water Intoxication, which is also known as “Water Poisoning”, can be defined as “a potentially fatal disturbance in brain function that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside of safe limits by a very rapid intake of water.” (Wikipedia.com) What that simply means is, if you drink too much water in a short period of time, it will lessen the amount of sodium that’s in your bloodstream. This imbalance can cause the cells in the central nervous system and the brain to swell up. The cells can stop working and a person can have seizures or slip into a coma. Water Intoxication can even lead to death. If you’re concerned about drinking enough water to keep your body healthy and hydrated, then you need to know about deadly Water Intoxication: are you at risk?
The common symptoms of Water Intoxication can include nausea, lightheadedness, headache, mental confusion, vomiting and fatigue. Investigators know that Jennifer Strange, a twenty-eight-year-old mother of three, complained of not feeling well and having a terrible headache on the day she died, January 12, 2007. The New York Times reported that Strange innocently entered a contest earlier that day that was sponsored by a local radio station. She wanted to win a Nintendo Wii for her kids, and the contest seemed easy enough. Station 107.9 KDND, located in Sacramento, California started their “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest that Friday. Contestants started out drinking eight-ounce bottles of water every fifteen minutes. But, they weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom. Instead, they had to hold the water in their bladders for as long as they could. The last person to “hold out” would be awarded the $250 Nintendo Wii. As the contest progressed, the contestants were given even larger bottles of water to drink.
That afternoon, Strange was found dead in her home by her mother. It’s unknown exactly how much water she consumed. But, the next day, Ed Smith, Assistant Sacramento County Coroner, reported that, after initially examining Strange’s body, he had found indications that were “consistent with a water intoxication death.”
Deadly Water Intoxication: are you at risk? Distance runners and people who overwork their bodies and sweat profusely while doing other activities top the “High-Risk” category for Water Intoxication. However, if you drink a lot of water at once, and it causes an imbalance in your blood system, then you can suffer from Water Intoxication. You may be surprised to learn this, but even if you’re just relaxing in a hot environment, and you drink too much water in an abbreviated period of time, you can also suffer from Water Intoxication.
Fortunately, mild cases of Water Intoxication can be treated. The amount of fluid that a sufferer drinks is restricted, and sometimes diuretics are prescribed to help rid the body of the excess water. A saline solution may also be given to the patient intravenously to help rebalance the sodium levels.
Jennifer Strange’s story shouldn’t make you afraid to drink a healthy amount of water on a daily basis in order to keep your body properly hydrated. It does, however, remind us that “moderation” is the key word here. Generally, the experts recommend drinking six- eight ounce glasses of water a day for optimum health. That figure actually depends on a variety of factors including your specific health status, age, activity levels, et cetera. For the best advice on your water intake, talk to your healthcare professional about what he or she recommends when it comes to the amount of water you should drink each day.