“Be water, my friend.” That was said by a wise man named Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee probably never experienced water intoxication. Water intoxication is experienced when someone drinks extreme amounts of water. These cases of water intoxication are rare, but there have been several instances where people have died from water intoxication.
The most famous death through water intoxication was a 28 year old woman’s quest to get a free Wii video game console. She tried to attain the Nintendo Wii through a contest at a radio station. The contest was called “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”, and should have included, “possibly OD”, and “die for a mediocre console”. As you probably have guessed, the radio station was holding a water drinking contest that prevented the contestants from urinating. The woman had downed 6 liters of water in three hours’ time. An impressive feat, but she did not get to enjoy the fruits of her accomplishments for long. She vomited and went home with an excruciating headache and died soon after via water intoxication.
There are a couple more known water overdose related tragedies. In 2005, a student died at a fraternity hazing that required him to constantly drink water in between pushups in a cold basement. There have also been instances where people danced and sweat all night on MDMA and died from trying to rehydrate in large amounts the following day. La-da-di-da-di, dancing with molly, hydrate carefully.
All these cases of death via water intoxication carry the same tone of extremity. The deaths usually occur through contests or extreme dehydration followed by extreme hydration. So what causes the actual death? Water has no calories and harmful chemicals right? Well, the reason people die from water actually has less to do with water and more to do with how are body reacts to the water.
The way to sound smart when talking about water intoxication is by referring to it as dilutional hyponatremia. Dilutional hyponatremia causes death by creating an imbalance of fluids in the human body, and a disturbance to the brain. Hyponatremia is actually a Latin word for an insufficient amount of salt in the blood. Our kidneys are responsible for controlling the amount of salt and water that leaves our blood. When someone drinks too much water, the kidneys cannot keep up and flush out the water in time, and the blood becomes water clogged. It is sort of like that one clogged toilet that you wish you had not seen. This causes the brain to swell and eventually lead to a coma or death.
If this is causing you to put away your water bottle, bring it back out and do not worry. As you have read, an extreme instance of dehydration and hydration is required for death via water over dosage. The safest bet when hydrating is taking small sips consistently throughout the day. This will prevent your body from experiencing water deprivation and desires of extreme water binging, and will allow you to live another day to tell your tale of proper hydration.