Too much water drinking

Water (in its pure state) is a compound that exists in a form of liquid that has no odor, taste or color. Almost 70 percent of the planet is covered by water. Water can exist in four states – as liquid, gas, a solid ice substance  and in a super-critical state when liquid and gas fuse together under high temperature and pressure.

Facts

  • Only ONE percent of water on earth can be used as drinking water by organic life
  • 2/3 of the human body is taken by water. Seventy percent of skin is compiled from water
  • A human can only survive about a week without water
  • Water formula is H2O and it’s melting point is 32°F or 0.0°C
  • In chemical context, the systematic name of water is dihydrogen monoxide
  • The first decomposition of H2O into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis was done by William Nicholson – an English chemist in 1800.

Too much water drinking and dangers of water intoxication

Can we drink too much water? Yes, an excessive water intake within a short period of time can lead to water intoxication and inevitably death. Although a rare occurrence, there are plenty of documented cases each year where water intoxication is the primary reason for death.

Physiological mechanism

In the initial stage of water intoxication, the serum outside the cells becomes very low in concentration of sodium and other electrolytes in comparison to that inside the cells. This electrolyte imbalance causes the fluid shift via osmosis into the cells, causing progression of electrolyte imbalance and forcing the cells to swell. The resulting low levels of salt in blood serum becomes a condition known as hyponatremia, a.k.a., electrolyte disturbance.

Most common symptoms of water intoxication

  • Increased thirst due to electrolytes imbalance
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Raised Intracranial pressure in the brain causing nervous system dysfunctions
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness & spasm
  • Seizures
  • Decreased mental consciousness
  • Coma

The severity of symptoms is expressed following levels of salt in blood, however, with mild cases, the hyponatremia  often remains an undiagnosed condition.

Numerous illnesses of liver, kidney and heart have been associated with hyponatremia

Neurological expression of hyponatremia symptoms is usually occurred with extremely low level of blood serum sodium levels – below 120 mEq/L. The condition causes brain swelling and can lead to herniation and brain stem compression inevitably causing respiratory arrest.

A gradual drop in sodium levels to a very low level can be tolerated, however, if a rapid drop of sodium in blood serum occurs within under an hour, the condition may become extremely severe resulting in heart arrest and death.

How to avoid water intoxication known as hyponatremia

  • Do not drink too much water in a short period of time or more than your thirst demands
  • Avoid diuretics since they promote further electrolyte imbalance
  • Replace about 60-70 percent of sweat losses during strenuous exercise
  • Maintain the sodium intake to prevent excessive sodium dilution in blood
  • Do not rely on sports sodium containing drinks alone as mostly these drinks do not provide a proper amount of sodium
  • Do not rely on salt tablets as these do very little to prevent the hyponatremia
  • Arrest any physical activity that results in excessive sweating on the first onset of any hyponatremia symptoms
  • Replenishing more with water at the point of developing hyponatremia may cause a severe case of water intoxication that can potentially be fatal