Excess Water Consumption

More than 4 quarts of water per day is only going to be necessary in situations of extreme sweating. If you are not sweating heavily, this much water may just place an unnecessary burden on your kidneys. Excessive fluid intake usually becomes dangerous when large volumes are drunken in a short period of time – beyond the bodies ability to clear the excess.

  • This can dilute the electrolytes in your blood and cause low blood-sodium levels (hyponatremia).
  • Excessive urination can flush out essential electrolytes, minerals and other compounds.

Symptoms of fluid overload include a gradual mental dulling, drowsiness, weakness, confusion, coma, convulsions and death.

Hyponatremic encephalopathy can result when too much water is ingested too quickly and the brain swells due to a sodium imbalance. This is most common amongst athletes, military personnel and the elderly. There were 125 Army hospitalizations for hypontraemia between 1989 and 1996. These cases were associated with excessive water drinking and were often mistaken for dehydration and patients were unfortunately given additional water.

Due to heat exhaustion, Marine Corps recruits drank ten to twenty-two quarts of water in a short time period in July1995 which resulted in nine cases in one day. Five of them developed seizure activity and progressed to delirium and/or coma, but were eventually returned to full duty.

In July 1997 there was one fatal case where a healthy eighteen-year-old drank three quarts of water prior to arriving at a rifle range. He drank five more quarts before 11am and began to feel dizzy. He therefore rested and drank two more quarts and waited to see an improvement. When his symptoms did not improve he drank ten more quarts over the next two hours. He became increasingly confused and lethargic and lost consciousness. He later died.

Older people are often advised to drink much more water than they can handle because the thirst sensation is less accurate as the aging process progresses. However, high fluid intake can cause them to lose sleep, as they will need to use the bathroom during the night and can also worsen congestive heart failure. Many older patients may already be at risk of hyponatremia because their kidneys reabsorb too much water.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Excess Water Consumption

Symptoms - General  

Constant fatigue



Symptoms - Mind - General  

A 'foggy' mind

Symptoms of fluid overload include a gradual mental dulling, drowsiness, weakness, confusion, coma, convulsions (and even death!)



 

Periods of confusion/disorientation




Conditions that suggest Excess Water Consumption

Metabolic  


Musculo-Skeletal  


Nervous System  



Risk factors for Excess Water Consumption

Lab Values - Chemistries  

Low BUN



Symptoms - Food - Beverages  

High/excessive water consumption



 

Sufficient water consumption



Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Food - Beverages  

Reasonable/insufficient water consumption




Excess Water Consumption can lead to

Digestion  

Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion

Excess water drinking can lower stomach acidity and impair digestion.




Recommendations for Excess Water Consumption

Diet  


Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
Highly recommended

Glossary

Electrolyte

An element or compound that, when melted or dissolved in water or other solvent, breaks up into ions and is able to carry an electric current.

Mineral

Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.

Sodium

An essential mineral that our bodies regulate and conserve. Excess sodium retention increases the fluid volume (edema) and low sodium leads to less fluid and relative dehydration. The adult body averages a total content of over 100 grams of sodium, of which a surprising one-third is in bone. A small amount of sodium does get into cell interiors, but this represents only about ten percent of the body content. The remaining 57 percent or so of the body sodium content is in the fluid immediately surrounding the cells, where it is the major cation (positive ion). The role of sodium in the extracellular fluid is maintaining osmotic equilibrium (the proper difference in ions dissolved in the fluids inside and outside the cell) and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission, muscle tone and nutrient transport. All of these functions are interrelated with potassium.

Seizure

While there are over 40 types of seizure, most are classed as either partial seizures which occur when the excessive electrical activity in the brain is limited to one area or generalized seizures which occur when the excessive electrical activity in the brain encompasses the entire organ. Although there is a wide range of signs, they mainly include such things as falling to the ground; muscle stiffening; jerking and twitching; loss of consciousness; an empty stare; rapid chewing/blinking/breathing. Usually lasting from between a couple of seconds and several minutes, recovery may be immediate or take up to several days.

Congestive

Pertaining to accumulation of blood or fluid within a vessel or organ.

Stomach

A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

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