As the old aphorism says, “Too much of anything will kill you.”
“Too much” is a relative concept. “The dose makes the poison,” Paracelsus, the founder of modern toxicology, famously said, and we call that dose a substance’s LD50. Also known as the “median lethal dose,” LD50 is the amount of something needed to kill 50% of those exposed to it.
For most substances, of course, the bar of lethality sits a lot higher than that of a notoriously deadly toxin. Among these substances is WATER. Yes, a compound so essential to life as we know it.
Every substance, even a life-giving one like WATER, has its limit.
Weird but true: In rare cases, drinking too much water can kill. It can cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. That’s a condition called hyponatremia. It is very serious and can be FATAL. You may hear it called water intoxication.
Water intoxication is the extreme result of a bodily imbalance between electrolytes (the minerals in your blood and body fluid that carry an electric charge, like SODIUM) and water. The issue boils down to sodium levels. One of sodium’s jobs is to balance the fluids in and around your cells. Drinking too much water causes an imbalance, and the liquid moves from your blood to inside your cells, making them swell. Swelling inside the brain is serious and requires immediate treatment.
Athletes – endurance athletes, especially – are also recognized as being at risk of water poisoning. Results from a study published in 2005 in the New England Journal Of Medicine, suggest nearly one in six participants in 2002’s Boston Marathon experienced some degree of low levels of sodium in the bloodstream.
A 2006 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states unequivocally that,
exercise associated hyponatremia is due to overdrinking.”
So, to all “water lovers” out there, will you drink ENOUGH water now?