It’s the fact that the intake of water is essential and good for health. Still, if there is overhydration, then it becomes an issue as it leads to water intoxication, also known as water toxaemia. It takes place when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in the human body result in low concentration.
There is lopsidedness when the extracellular fluid (ECF) becomes diluted, causing water to shift towards cells to equalise solute concentration on each side of the cell. A risk-related condition, named Hyponatremia (a word cobbled together from Latin and Greek roots, meaning inadequate salt in the blood), could occur during strenuous exercise or if high volumes of water are undertaken with no solute or sodium replacement.
Head of nephrology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, M. Amin Arnaout, said, “Rapid and severe hyponatremia causes entry of water into brain cells leading to brain swelling, which manifests as seizures, coma, respiratory arrest, brain stem herniation and death.”
Oedema is another way of having excess solutes and water, also called isotonic volume excess. The extra fluid is retained in the extracellular compartment leading to fluid accumulation in the interstitial spaces. Its symptoms include increased blood pressure, weight gain, neck vein engorgement.
What is the mechanism of water intoxication?
It is connected with osmotic pressure in cells. Cells adjust by intaking more and more water when lowering the amounts of salt in the blood. Therefore, the cells will swell. These enable the nerves to lead to headaches. If this carries high amounts of water to the brain, it could be highly malevolent. When cells seal blood vessels, they are devoid of oxygen without consciousness. Brain oedema is often the reason behind the direct impact of death.
We are encouraged to drink plenty of water. Still, one has to be very careful with the infants as redundant water dilutes a child’s normal sodium levels and can cause coma, seizures, brain damage and death, said Pediatrician James P. Keating, MD, retired medical director of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Diagnostic Center.
“Repeated dunking of infants can cause them to gulp water and has caused seizures in the infants at the poolside,” he added. Symptoms in children include a change in behaviour, muscle cramps and twitching, blurred vision, poor coordination, nausea and vomiting. Therefore, one should immediately consult their Pediatrician during such situations.
Consuming excess water leads to a drop in electrolyte levels and causes fatigue, depletion of vital nutrients like potassium. Further symptoms could include leg pain, chest pain and irritation, too much urination as the body can’t absorb the quantity of fluid.
Water requirement for a human body
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states there are no formal directions about how much water a person needs to drink each day. It depends on various factors, namely body weight, climate, breastfeeding, and level of physical activity.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, in 2004, it suggested that women aged 19–30 consume nearly 2.7 litres per day and men of the same age approximately 3.7 litres per day.
For athletes, experts recommend that one should balance what one is drinking with what they are sweating, comprising sports drinks, which can also cause Hyponatremia when undertaken in excess.