Medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — composed by Arlene Semeco, MS, RD — updated on may 14, 2020

Every cabinet in the body demands water to function correctly. However, drinking as well much deserve to lead to water intoxication and also serious wellness consequences.

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It is complicated to drink too lot water by accident, yet it can happen, typically as a an outcome of overhydrating throughout sporting events or extreme training.

The symptom of water intoxication are general — castle can encompass confusion, disorientation, nausea, and also vomiting.

In rarely cases, water intoxication can reason swelling in the mind and come to be fatal.

This write-up describes the symptoms, causes, and effects the water intoxication. It additionally looks into exactly how much water a person should drink every day.


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Share on PinterestA human being may endure water intoxication if they drink too much water.
Also well-known as water poisoning, water intoxication is a disruption of mind function led to by drink too lot water.

Doing so rises the quantity of water in the blood. This can dilute the electrolytes, particularly sodium, in the blood.

If salt levels fall below 135 millimoles per liter (mmol/l), physicians refer to the issue as hyponatremia.

Sodium helps keep the balance that fluids inside and outside that cells. Once sodium levels drop due to excessive water consumption, fluids take trip from the outside to the inside of cells, resulting in them to swell.

When this wake up to mind cells, it have the right to be dangerous and also even life threatening.

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


Dangers of drink too lot water

When a human being consumes an excessive amount that water and cells in their brain start to swell, the press inside your skull increases. This causes the very first symptoms the water intoxication, i beg your pardon include:

Severe instances of water intoxication have the right to produce more serious symptoms, such as:

drowsinessconfusioninability to recognize sensory information

A buildup of liquid in the mind is called cerebral edema. This can impact the brain stem and cause central nervous mechanism dysfunction.

In serious cases, water intoxication can reason seizures, brain damage, a coma, and also even death.

Bottom line: drinking too lot water deserve to increase the pressure inside the skull. This can cause various symptoms and, in severe cases, come to be fatal.


What can cause water intoxication?

Water intoxication is rare, and also it is very daunting to consume too lot water by accident. However, it can happen — there have been numerous medical reports of death due to excessive water intake.

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

Sporting events

Water intoxication is particularly common among endurance athletes. It can occur if a human being drinks a many water there is no correctly accounting for electrolyte losses.

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

As the authors of one examine report, out of 488 entrants in the 2002 Boston Marathon, 13% had actually hyponatremia symptoms, and also 0.06% had vital hyponatremia, with sodium levels of much less than 120 mmol/l.

Instances of water intoxication at these occasions have led to death. One case connected a runner who had fell down after a marathon.

Because he was improperly rehydrated, his salt levels fell below 130 mmol/l. The runner then arisen water top top the brain, recognized as hydrocephalus, and a hernia in his brain stem, which led to his death.

Military training

One clinical report defined 17 soldiers who occurred hyponatremia after drinking too much water during training. Your blood sodium levels to be 115–130 mmol/l, while the normal range is 135–145 mmol/l.

According to another report, 3 soldiers passed away due come hyponatremia and cerebral edema. These deaths were connected with drinking much more than 5 liters of water in just a few hours.

The symptom of hyponatremia have the right to be misinterpreted together those that dehydration. According to one report, a soldier who got an not correct diagnosis that dehydration and heat stroke passed away from water intoxication as a result of rehydration efforts.

Mental health and wellness conditions

Compulsive water drinking, additionally called psychogenic polydipsia, can be a symptom of various mental wellness conditions.

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

Bottom line: Water intoxication have the right to be life threatening, and it is most common among soldiers in training, endurance athletes, and also people with schizophrenia.


Overhydration and also water intoxication occur when a person drinks an ext water than their kidney can remove via urine.

The lot of water is no the only element — time also plays a role.

According to figures quoted in a 2013 study, the kidneys can eliminate about 20–28 liters that water a day, yet they can remove no an ext than 0.8 to 1.0 liters every hour.

To prevent hyponatremia, that is essential not to outpace the kidney by drinking much more water 보다 they have the right to eliminate.

The authors of the study report the hyponatremia symptom can build if a person drinks 3–4 liters that water in a quick period, despite they perform not provide a details time estimate.

According come one case report, soldiers developed symptoms after spend at least 2 quarts (1.9 liters) the water per hour.

Another report describes the advancement of hyponatremia after drinking much more than 5 liters in a few hours.

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

Finally, according to one report, a 9-year-old girl emerged water intoxication after spend 3.6 liters the water in 1–2 hours.

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


According to the Centers for an illness Control and also Prevention (CDC), there room no main guidelines about how much water a human needs to drink each day.

The best amount differs, depending upon factors such together body weight, level of physical activity, the climate, and whether they room breastfeeding.

In 2004, The national Academy of medication recommended that ladies aged 19–30 consume around 2.7 liters every day and also men of the very same age approximately 3.7 liters every day.

Some civilization still monitor the 8×8 rule, which recommends drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, this to be not based upon research.

Relying on thirst may not occupational for everyone. Athletes, larger adults, and pregnant women, for example, may need come drink more water each day.

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To calculation the right amount, that can help to consider calories. If a human being needs 2,000 calories every day, they should likewise consume 2,000 milliliters the water every day.