Medically the evaluation by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — written by Arlene Semeco, MS, RD — to update on might 14, 2020

Every cabinet in the body requirements water to function correctly. However, drinking too much have the right to lead come water intoxication and also serious wellness consequences.

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It is complicated to drink too lot water by accident, but it have the right to happen, commonly as a result of overhydrating throughout sporting occasions or extreme training.

The symptom of water intoxication are basic — they can incorporate confusion, disorientation, nausea, and also vomiting.

In rarely cases, water intoxication can cause swelling in the mind and become fatal.

This short article describes the symptoms, causes, and effects that water intoxication. It likewise looks into just how much water a human being should drink every day.


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Share top top PinterestA person may endure water intoxication if lock drink too lot water.
Also recognized as water poisoning, water intoxication is a disruption of mind function brought about by drinking too much water.

Doing so increases the amount of water in the blood. This can dilute the electrolytes, especially sodium, in the blood.

If sodium levels fall listed below 135 millimoles per liter (mmol/l), doctors refer come the problem as hyponatremia.

Sodium helps keep the balance of fluids inside and also outside the cells. As soon as sodium level drop due to excessive water consumption, fluids take trip from the outside to the inside of cells, leading to them come swell.

When this wake up to brain cells, it can be dangerous and also even life threatening.

Bottom line: Water intoxication outcomes from drinking too lot water. The overfill water dilutes sodium in the blood and causes fluids to move inside cells, causing them come swell.


Dangers of drink too much water

When a person consumes an extreme amount the water and also cells in their brain start come swell, the push inside their skull increases. This reasons the very first symptoms the water intoxication, which include:

Severe cases of water intoxication have the right to produce an ext serious symptoms, together as:

drowsinessconfusioninability to identify sensory information

A buildup of liquid in the mind is referred to as cerebral edema. This can influence the brain stem and also cause central nervous system dysfunction.

In severe cases, water intoxication can cause seizures, mind damage, a coma, and even death.

Bottom line: drink too lot water can increase the press inside the skull. This can reason various symptoms and, in severe cases, become fatal.


What can cause water intoxication?

Water intoxication is rare, and also it is very challenging to consume too much water by accident. However, it can occur — there have actually been numerous medical reports of fatality due to too much water intake.

Water intoxication most generally affects human being participating in sporting events or endurance training, or people who have various mental health and wellness conditions.

Sporting events

Water intoxication is an especially common amongst endurance athletes. It can take place if a human drinks a lot of water without correctly accounting for electrolyte losses.

For this reason, hyponatremia often occurs during major sporting events.

As the writer of one study report, the end of 488 participants in the 2002 Boston Marathon, 13% had actually hyponatremia symptoms, and also 0.06% had critical hyponatremia, with sodium level of much less than 120 mmol/l.

Instances of water intoxication in ~ these occasions have resulted in death. One case involved a runner who had collapsed after a marathon.

Because he to be improperly rehydrated, his sodium levels fell below 130 mmol/l. The runner then occurred water on the brain, known as hydrocephalus, and a hernia in his brain stem, which resulted in his death.

Military training

One clinical report explained 17 soldiers who developed hyponatremia after drinking too lot water throughout training. Their blood salt levels were 115–130 mmol/l, when the normal variety is 135–145 mmol/l.

According to one more report, three soldiers passed away due come hyponatremia and also cerebral edema. These deaths were linked with drinking more than 5 liters of water in just a couple of hours.

The symptom of hyponatremia can be misinterpreted together those the dehydration. According to one report, a soldier who got an untrue diagnosis the dehydration and also heat stroke died from water intoxication as a an outcome of rehydration efforts.

Mental health conditions

Compulsive water drinking, additionally called psychogenic polydipsia, deserve to be a symptom of miscellaneous mental health and wellness conditions.

It is most common among people v schizophrenia, however it can also arise in human being with affective disorders, psychosis, and personality disorders.

Bottom line: Water intoxication deserve to be life threatening, and it is many common amongst soldiers in training, endurance athletes, and people through schizophrenia.


Overhydration and also water intoxication take place when a person drinks an ext water than their kidney can eliminate via urine.

The amount of water is not the only factor — time additionally plays a role.

According to figures quoted in a 2013 study, the kidneys have the right to eliminate about 20–28 liters of water a day, but they have the right to remove no much more than 0.8 come 1.0 liters every hour.

To avoid hyponatremia, the is necessary not to outpace the kidneys by drinking more water than they deserve to eliminate.

The authors of the study report the hyponatremia symptoms can build if a human being drinks 3–4 liters the water in a brief period, despite they do not offer a certain time estimate.

According come one case report, soldiers occurred symptoms after consuming at the very least 2 quarts (1.9 liters) the water every hour.

Another report explains the development of hyponatremia after drinking an ext than 5 liters in a few hours.

Water intoxication and prolonged hyponatremia likewise occurred in an otherwise healthy 22-year-old prisoner who drank 6 liters the water in 3 hours.

Finally, according to one report, a 9-year-old girl developed water intoxication after consuming 3.6 liters that water in 1–2 hours.

Bottom line: The kidneys have the right to remove 20–28 liters the water every day, however they cannot excrete much more than 0.8 to 1.0 liters every hour. Drinking an ext than this can be harmful.


According come the Centers for an illness Control and Prevention (CDC), there space no official guidelines about how lot water a person needs come drink every day.

The appropriate amount differs, depending on factors such as body weight, level of physics activity, the climate, and also whether they room breastfeeding.

In 2004, The nationwide Academy of medicine recommended that females aged 19–30 consume about 2.7 liters per day and men of the exact same age roughly 3.7 liters every day.

Some world still follow the 8×8 rule, i m sorry recommends drink eight 8-ounce glasses the water every day. However, this to be not based upon research.

Relying top top thirst might not occupational for everyone. Athletes, enlarge adults, and pregnant women, because that example, might need to drink more water each day.

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To calculation the appropriate amount, that can help to think about calories. If a person needs 2,000 calories every day, lock should also consume 2,000 milliliters that water per day.