Posted by Billyjam, February 2, 2008 05:00am | Post a Comment
As reported recently by Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, a 35 year old English man overdosed, not on drugs or from alcohol poisoning -- but from drinking too much water. For real! According to British authorities, Shaun McNamara  "drank himself to death ... after he downed glass after glass of water."

Medical experts found absolutely no trace of any narcotics in his system, nor did they suspect suicide or foul play of any kind. However, according to the mother of the deceased, her son had been depressed and overdosed on drugs back in 2005 and apparently since then had been trying to live an extremely healthy lifestyle that consisted of drinking unusually large amounts of water.

And while it sounds weird that someone could actually die from drinking water, stories of such a thing do surface from time to time. There was a case in Europe some years back where someone took too much of the drug ecstasy, and in an attempt to counter the illegal drug's dehydrating effects, drank way too much water and then died of water intoxication. Medical experts said that it was not the drug but the water in the person's system that killed them.

Another case you may remember was in California just a year ago, last January, when Sacramento  woman Jennifer Strange died in relation to a "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest by a local radio station KDND. The unfortunate 28 year old mother of three, in a bid to win a Nintento Wii video game system, drank an excessive amount of water (two gallons) in a short period of time and then tried to hold it for as long as possible without going to the bathroom. It killed her. According to the Sacramento Coroner's Office she died of "water intoxication."

That case brought the issue to light, with many doctors offering their input at the time. One medical expert explained that technically the woman in Sacramento died of a condition called hyponatremia, meaning a potentially fatal disturbance in brain function that results when the normal balance of electrolytes (salt, potassium) in the body is pushed outside of safe limits.

So should we be concerned about overdosing on water? Not really -- since most deaths from water intoxication have resulted from drinking contests or situations where individuals drink abnormally large amounts in short periods of time. 

But for continued safety? The key, according to experts, is when you drink water throughout the day be sure to add food that contains a healthy amount of salt and potassium. Having, say, just one banana or a kiwi can make a difference in your electrolyte balances. They say that you will notice that you must use the restroom every 1-2 hours and that this too keeps the balance (water and salts) in check.

And as for how much water one should drink everyday? While many swear by the "eight glasses a day," theory, it actually varies considerably depending on what kind of climate you live in, what kind of activities you participate in, your age, your health, etc. Here is a pretty good link to the Mayo Clinic who offer some good advice on suggested water intake.