Water poisoning occurs as a result of increased fluid intake. If you drink several litres of water within a few hours, the blood is diluted in such a way that the salt concentration decreases alarmingly. This causes life-threatening health problems. What is meant by water poisoning, we would like to report here!
Why Does Drinking Too Much Water Cause Fluid Overdose
What amount of drinking is advisable
Since 70 per cent of people are water, regular drinking is important. Experts find two litres of water per day appropriate for maintaining vital bodily functions. It is recommended to eat the amount distributed for 16 hours. Water poisoning occurs when you supply more than five litres of liquid within three hours.
Around 250 cases of endurance athletes who died from excessive drinking are documented worldwide. Sadly, a California radio station’s drinking competition, in which a 28-year-old contestant died of water poisoning on the same day, gained notoriety.
What threatens the water balance
If you carry out an excess of water in a short time, your body will be literally flooded with liquid. This situation leads to water poisoning, which causes considerable confusion to the electrolyte balance of the organism.
With water and minerals, salts are considered an essential component of all cells and their spaces. Sodium and potassium, in particular, are significantly involved in the health and functioning of the body’s own cells. If too much water flows into the tissue at once, an imbalance of the salt concentration occurs inside and outside the cells, resulting in water poisoning. This disorder is known to physicians under the technical term hyperhydration.
How the organism reacts
If the salt concentration drops in water poisoning, the body switches to thrift flame to compensate for the deficit. This emergency program mainly affects the heart, brain, lungs and kidneys. The result is cardiac arrhythmias. To this, the kidneys stop producing urine so that the remaining salinity can be maintained. If water poisoning spreads, the brain tissue is flooded. This situation is extremely critical. Because the swollen brain cannot expand under the bony skull roof. First, dizziness, vomiting, headaches and convulsions occur in case of water poisoning.
The increased brain pressure fills the pulmonary vesicles with water so that pulmonary edema with shortness of breath sets in. As a result, those affected can fall into a coma and die.
What endurance athletes should consider
Inexperienced marathon runners and triathletes are often unaware of the risk of water poisoning. For this reason, sports physicians from the Technical University of Munich investigated the drinking behaviour of 10,000 endurance athletes. As a result, the scientists found significant disturbances in the water balance in one-third of the subjects. Fifty subjects had life-threatening levels. Her participation in the competition ended in intensive care. T
o avoid water poisoning, beginners need to know how much water the body actually needs in training and competition. Experts estimate that, depending on the outside temperature, sweating behaviour and performance time, marathon runners lose up to 1.5 litres of water and 3.0 grams of salt every hour. For this reason, so-called drinking training was developed to prevent water poisoning.
If the endurance athlete loses one kilogram of weight under competitive conditions, the water loss is one litre. But sports doctors advise against compensating for the difference 1:1. Precisely because fatal water poisoning is known, experts recommend athletes to remain in a deficit when intake of fluids. It is optimal to offer the body only half a litre of water.
If you drink in excess or on stock, there is an acute risk of poisoning. Extreme athletes resort to hypertonic beverages and gel-like concentrates from the specialty trade to replace the loss of salts and minerals. These products must have 300 mmol/kilograms, according to the Swiss Food Act. If you lose less power to your body, some salty pretzels can compensate for the electrolyte loss.
What is the risk to infants?
In the first six months of life, babies, in particular, are at risk of developing water poisoning. The reason for this is the lack of maturation of the kidneys. Larger amounts of water have not yet grown the excretory organs. If your child is affected by a disturbance of the water and electrolyte balance, it has a bloated and lethargic effect. If the symptoms remain unrecognized or even untreated, unconsciousness and seizures are the results of water poisoning. Pediatricians, therefore, advise not to administer pure water to babies in the first half of life, even in summer temperatures. In their opinion, meals such as breastfeeding and bottled food are sufficient to meet the little ones’ liquid needs. Besides, if the infant is stimulated to drink, there is a risk of over-hydration.
Between the sixth and twelfth months, babies are less affected by water poisoning. At this age, the kidneys’ function is already fully formed so that the fluid balance can therefore be better balanced. On the other hand, the little ones already eat solid and salted food. If you are unsure, contact the pediatrician if additional unsweetened tea is allowed. It is helpful to document your baby’s absorbed fluid in a book.
How to balance the water balance
As men sweat more, they have a higher need for fluids than women. The right amount of drinking also depends on personal dietary habits. If you mainly eat fruits and vegetables, your body needs less water. If you eat mainly salty and high in fat, you must definitely drink more. Be wareiserous with diets! Since more is drunk than eaten to reduce weight, the risk of water poisoning increases. Reasons for an increased need for fluids are fever, sports and summer heat.
In case of vomiting and diarrhea, the loss of water and electrolyte may need to be corrected by a doctor. Patients with stones in the ureters and kidneys should drink at least 1.5 litres daily. Since the body cannot store water, drinking on the stock is strongly discouraged. This is the only way to minimize the risk of water poisoning!