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Understanding Water Intoxication

Water intoxication, a serious condition caused by excessive water intake, can be fatal. While vital for health, too much water dilutes essential electrolytes in the body, leading to issues like seizures and even death. Listen to your body’s thirst cues and avoid arbitrary water challenges to stay safely hydrated. Consult your doctor for personalized water intake recommendations based on your individual needs.

Ashley Miller Summers, 35-year-old mother of two from Indiana, died from water intoxication on a family vacation. Reports state at one point, she drank four bottles in less than 30 minutes. [1] In 1991, Andy Warhol died after surgery and hospital-administered hydration. [2] An 18-year-old suffering from a mental disorder had a seizure after drinking too much water and died three days later. [3] Matthew Carrington, 21, died after trying to drink a five-gallon water jug as part of hazing in college. [4] Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old mother of three, entered the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” competition and later died from drinking too much water. [5] Anna Wood, a 15-year-old Australian, died from water intoxication and the secondary effects of Ecstasy. [6]

Water intoxication, also referred to as water poisoning or hyponatremia, is a severe medical condition that can be fatal. It occurs when there is an excessive intake of water, which leads to a low sodium concentration in the body. This condition is worth understanding, particularly for individuals like you, who prioritize maintaining proper hydration.

So, why can this life-sustaining element, water, harm us? Our bodies maintain a delicate balance of electrolytes and tiny mineral messengers that keep our cells functioning optimally. One of these crucial electrolytes is sodium. 

What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

According to The Cleveland Clinic, “Too much water in your body causes your blood to become watered down. A good example is people who run in long races or run on hot days. They lose both salt and water in their sweat and often replace these losses with mostly water. This combination can be deadly because it dilutes the remaining sodium in the body.” [7]

sitting in the square in Medina. Oh looking at the gazebo

How Do You Know If You Have Water Poisoning?

This is where the trouble begins. Swollen cells, particularly in the brain, disrupt vital processes, leading to a cascade of symptoms. Headaches, nausea, confusion, and fatigue are just the early stages. In severe cases, seizures, comas, and even death can occur.

How Is Water Intoxication Treated?

You should seek emergency medical care immediately if you think you are experiencing water intoxication. Especially if your symptoms include headaches, nausea, drowsiness, or seizures. Your doctor will likely use an IV sodium solution to restore the electrolyte levels in your body.

How Much Water Is Too Much to Drink in a Day?

Water intoxication is very rare, especially for healthy individuals with normal kidney function. The average adult needs around 2-3 liters of water per day, though factors like activity level, climate, and individual health can alter this number. 

Here’s the key: listen to your body. More is not always better. Enough is the goal. Thirst is your built-in hydration gauge, a reliable indicator of when to replenish. Don’t force water down just because some arbitrary rule dictates it, like the one-gallon challenge. Peeing clear isn’t the holy grail of hydration; pale yellow is perfectly acceptable. And remember, electrolytes are your friends. After intense exercise, electrolyte tabs or a salty snack can help maintain that crucial balance.

walking through medina square with reusable distillata glass bottle (1)

To Prevent Water Intoxication

  • Drink enough water – not too much water.
  • Listen to your body.
  • If you’re an athlete, include electrolytes.
  • Avoid water challenges such as the 75 Hard Challenge, which requires you to drink one gallon per day.
  • Be mindful of the size of your cup. Extra large Stanley cups are great. They provide easy access to water and are a preferred alternative to soda. But you still need to be aware of how much you drink daily.

We are proud to be your partner in mindful hydration. We believe in quenching your thirst responsibly, ensuring you reap the benefits of this life-giving liquid. So, sip wise, Cleveland, and let Distillata guide you to balanced, healthy hydration. Stay informed and stay hydrated!

For personalized hydration choices, consult your healthcare professional. They can tailor water intake recommendations based on your unique needs and health conditions.


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