Can Drinking Water Make You
Too much of a good thing can spell disaster for athletes,
dieters, and health nuts alike. Read on to find out how.
By Seth Czarnecki
You’ve read it on health blogs, diet
websites, and fitness magazines: Drink eight glasses a day—every day. For the majority of us, we struggle just to
make this mark, let alone exceed it. But could you actually ingest too much water? The answer is simply: Yes. Hyperhydration —also known as water intoxication—can
cause sufferers’ brain to swell ultimately leading to fatigue, coma, or even death.
Although relatively unknown, water intoxication has serious and real
consequences. In 2007, Jennifer Strange died of over hydration when she partook in a water drinking competition. A
local radio station hosted a contest entitled “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” in which contestants were asked to drink as
much water as possible without using the restroom. Attempting to win the Nintendo Wii game system for her children,
Strange complained of severe headaches. Though is it not known exactly how much water she consumed, the Coroner
conducting the preliminary investigation stated her death was consistent with water
How Water Intoxication Works?
According to researchers at the National Institute for Health (NIH), disturbs
the body’s electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are required to maintain normal body functions such as blood pH, nerve
and muscle function. Overhydration, as well as dehydration, upsets the electrolyte balance resulting in a rapid
decrease in the body’s sodium levels. This is a condition known as hyperatremia. The kidneys cannot cope with an
excess amount of liquid resulting in the minerals in the blood being diluted and a dangerous decrease in the body’s
sodium levels. As the sodium concentration falls, water moves into the brain cells, which can result in a feeling
of lethargy, coma, and death.