Can you overdose on water? She drank two liters in 20 minutes and died

Can you overdose on water?  She drank two liters in 20 minutes and died

Water is essential for life and proper functioning of the body. But what happens when we drink too much? Check.

An adult should drink an average of 6-8 glasses of water a day. Ashley Summers far exceeded this “limit”. Within twenty minutes, according to the woman’s relatives, she drank four bottles of water with a capacity of 500 militaria. In total, she delivered two liters of water to her body in a very short time. The results turned out to be tragic. The woman fainted. She was taken to the hospital, where she died without regaining consciousness. Doctors said the cause of death was water intoxication.

What does an overdose of water lead to?

Drinking too much water in a short time leads to poisoning, more precisely hypotonic overhydration. It is accompanied by various disturbing symptoms. These include:

  • increase in body temperature,

  • muscle pain and cramps,

  • general malaise,

  • skin redness,

  • nausea,

  • headaches,

  • increased thirst.

There is also accelerated and deepened breathing, shortness of breath at rest, excessive sleepiness and impaired consciousness. In extreme cases, there are abnormalities in the functioning of the kidneys and circulatory failure. There is swelling of many organs (brain, lungs, etc.). An overdose of water can therefore be fatal (as in the case of Ashley Summers). After her death, she became an organ donor. Her heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and some bone tissue were taken from her. Thanks to the 35-year-old, five people gained a chance for a second life.

Hypotonic hyperhydration can also occur in the course of various diseases. It often occurs in patients with adrenal insufficiency, renal failure, tuberculosis, pulmonary aspergillosis or porphyria. They can also be observed in the group of patients with tumors or skull injuries. Treatment is usually with diuretics (diuretic preparations), although much depends on the individual case. Therapy requires hospitalization (hospital stay). It is important that in the event of complications, a person who has water poisoning receives immediate professional help.

Different types of overhydration

Water poisoning comes in three different forms. We distinguish:

  • hypotonic overhydration – it occurs when we supply the body with too much of the so-called “free” water, i.e. devoid of electrolytes (the case of Ashley Summers).

  • isotonic overhydration – caused by excessive supply of isotonic fluids, which leads to an increase in sodium content in the body,

  • hypertonic overhydration – caused by excessive consumption of hypertonic drinks, for example sweet compotes, which do not hydrate, but provide the body with energy.

Source: Wojciech Załuska, Stanisław Dzimira, Overhydration – pathophysiology and clinic, Forum Nephrology 2012, vol. 5, no. 1, 68–72,

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