Water kills you?

Hyponatremia, a dangerous condition that occurs when the body’s sodium levels are diluted by excessive water consumption. This can lead to death.

ninemsn.com.au and the Herald Sun released articles on the death of a Tasmanian hiker because he drank too much water.

Australian Medical Association President Brian Morton said Mr Dent’s cells would have swelled as his body processed the large amount of water he had consumed.

“Well your body tries to get rid of it (the water) and it does that by getting rid of sodium and out with the sodium goes the water and out through the kidney into the bladder the sodium goes and takes it out of the cells so the cells just swell. So the person who died their brain swells and because it’s in a tight bony box it can’t swell so it gets squashed,” Dr Morton told 3AW

When your body is low in sodium, the excess water (usually retained by sodium) enters your cells causing them to swell.  Most cells can tolerate the swelling, however, our brain cells cannot. The main reason for this is because our skull bones confine the cells in the brain. If the cells swell too much, the brain literally squashes against the skull and can kill you.

For more in depth analysis on Hyponatremia, check medicinenet.com

Does this mean avoid drinking plenty of water? Definitely not, Hyponatremia can occur when drinking 1 litre of water per hour. This exceeds the recommended intake, even for athletes.

Hikers and marathon runners who train for hours also need to supplement with electrolyte energy drinks to replenish sodium in the body. According to the International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA) advocates ‘drinking to thirst’ for endurance runners, and no more.

In its guidelines for fluid replacement , the association recommends 0.03 litres per kilogram but suggests a sports drink for extended activity.

For example, a male who weighs 86kg(189pounds) needs around 2.5 litres of water per day.

Final advice: Hydration is very important, benefits include an increase in strength, an increase in metabolism and improved digestion.

Salynn Boyles’s article on water and metabolism provides further insight into water and its calorie burning ability.

As important as it is to not drink too much water, it is also essential to get sufficient hydration throughout the day.   


5 responses

  1. None for this article. The information provided is backed by claims from Doctors and associations in relation to Hyponatremia and this particular death that occurred from excessive water consumption. The next article on the importance of water will provide journal references and studies for a more thorough understanding of the topic in general.
    Let me know if i can provide anything else for ya.


  2. From the moment you wake up you are dehydrated from 7-8 hours of no hydration. Most people don’t realise this. The best tip is to have a 1 litre bottle of water by your bed. Try to hydrate first thing after rise. Everytime you feel tired throughout the day, drink some water and see what happens.
    I drink an average of 3-4 litres a day. According to the recommendation above, I only need 2.5 litres. But this is the average intake without exercise. So no, I don’t think I will die from Hyponatremia.

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