Can water be harmful?
Supplements and General Health • • 1 minute to read • By INFS Faculty
Author- Shubham Modi
‘Drink plenty of water – is a piece of common advice. It is very crucial to stay well hydrated. The human body is made up of ~60% water and primarily, we get water from the fluids we drink. We also get some water from the oxidation of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Contrary to popular belief, overconsumption of water is seriously dangerous and can turn fatal.
In this article, we’ll cover the details about water intoxication and how to stay safe from that.
Our body is made up of cells. Internally, cells have a high concentration of solutes, such as sodium. The chemistry of fluid balance suggests that wherever there is sodium, water will flow towards it.
Externally, cells are surrounded by extracellular (outside the cell) water, and there is intracellular fluid as well. When someone indulges in overconsumption, that excess water in the extracellular fluid finds its way to the insides of the cells.
This phenomenon leads to swelling of the cells, and hence water intoxication can cause cerebral edema (swelling). Sodium comes out to balance the water levels, which in turn reduces the serum levels in the blood, which is also known as hyponatremia. Such complexities can lead to severe outcomes, such as coma and death.
Symptoms of water intoxication are very similar to psychosis. They include confusion, disorientation, and hallucination. They can then progress to seizures, coma, and death (Peechakara and Gupta, 2019).
Under normal circumstances, accidentally consuming too much water is exceptionally rare. Nearly all deaths related to water intoxication in normal individuals have resulted either from water-drinking contests, in which individuals attempt to consume large amounts of water, or from long bouts of exercise during which excessive amounts of fluid were consumed, without replenishing the electrolytes. In addition, water cure, a method of torture in which the victim is forced to consume excessive amounts of water, can cause water intoxication.
So the question is, How much is too much?
In 2002, research was done to find out the same. Lead researcher, Gardner observed that water intake above 5 liters, usually in the range of 10-20 liters within a few hours is responsible for severe outcomes associated with extreme water intakes. (keep *hours in mind) (there are some athletes who drink more than 5 liters throughout the day, but the distribution, excretion, and electrolyte intake change the game). To stay on the safe side, it’s better to check how much water your body needs, and then adjust around that with trial and error.
Treatment of exercise-induced hyponatremia revolves around restoring sodium concentration in the blood, which is achieved through giving a bolus of oral saline (Hew-Butler et al., 2017). [AA1]
The extreme level of water intake within a short time should be avoided. Hydration is important. However, it should be done in the right manner!
- Gardner, J. W. (2002) ‘Death by water intoxication, Military Medicine. Association of Military Surgeons of the US, 167(5), pp. 432–434. doi: 10.1093/milmed/167.5.432.
- Hew-Butler, T. et al. (2017) ‘Exercise-Associated hyponatremia: 2017 update’, Frontiers in Medicine. Frontiers Media S.A., p. 1. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2017.00021.
- Peechakara, B. V. and Gupta, M. (2019) ‘Water Toxicity’. StatPearls Publishing. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537231/ (Accessed: 14 August 2020).
The plan that has transformed 300,000+ lives and counting!
- Customized diet & workout plans
- Access to a full suite of smart tracking tools
- Join the world’s largest online fitness community
- Customer Satisfaction score of 95.5%
- Coaching in your local language for clear guidance
Get results or get your money back!