It’s common when you’re ill to be told to drink plenty of fluids. However, recent events have shown that this isn’t the case. In fact drinking too much water could actually do you harm.
After a woman was submitted to hospital suffering from ‘water intoxication’, healthcare professionals are pondering over what a safe water intake is. The 59 year old was submitted to King’s College Hospital after drinking too much water. She developed symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Then she began drinking a pint of water every 30 minutes. She hoped that it would flush out her system.
She quickly fell seriously ill with dangerously low levels of salt in her blood. A potentially fatal condition if left untreated. Doctors are now calling for greater investigation into finding out how much water is too much water.
Water intoxication is a well-documented symptom of some endurance sports. As well as the use of certain drugs, including MDMA, which can cause excessive thirst. The patient herself suffered excessive vomiting and shaking. However, the condition can be deadly. Symptoms including nausea, headaches and in serious cases, brain swelling, confusion, seizures, coma and death. Patients with abnormally low salt levels, as a result drinking too much water, have a death rate of almost 30 per cent.
Chairman of clinical innovation and research at the Royal College of GPs, Dr Imran Rafi, spoke on the topic.
He said it was important to stay hydrated. But, there was no steadfast recommendation as to how much water people should drink:
“’Drinking enough water is important in keeping healthy, both physically and mentally, and patients should keep their fluids up when unwell, particularly in conditions that can cause dehydration,
“We would encourage patients to drink more if they have symptoms of dehydration, such as feeling thirsty – including in hot weather or when exercising – or passing dark-coloured urine.
“There is no steadfast recommendation as to how much water people should drink in order to stay healthy, but the key thing is to keep hydrated – and passing clear urine is a good indication of this.
“This case report highlights that excessive water intake can have important consequences for patients, and this is something that healthcare professionals, and patients, should be mindful of.”
The current recommendation for ‘drinking plenty of fluids’ is six to eight glasses per day.
Have you ever had any bad experiences from drinking too much water? Or do you think experts are worrying over nothing? Let us know!