Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old resident of California, a happy mother of three, won a radio contest which involved drinking large quantities of water without urinating. The woman won a Nintendo Wii game console. The winner did not have a chance to use her prize: she suffered from a very strong headache and intestinal spasms when she came home. Her mother found Jennifer dead in her home.
Two US marines died in a similar way when they drank several liters of water after exhausting physical exercises.
Water intoxication was the cause of death in both of the above-mentioned cases. This phenomenon is also known as hyperhydration, water poisoning or the drinking disease.
“Water intoxication may occur during the excessive consumption of fresh drinking water. In this case water does not go through kidneys, which are responsible for the fluid-and-electrolyte balance, and flows to other organs, which in their turn begin to swell. The brain experiences the biggest difficulty at this point. The swelling of brain cells causes cramps, coma, respiratory standstill and death,” professor Alexander Karabinenko of the Russian Medical University said.
Incidents of water intoxication are quite rare in the world. A healthy human body is capable of filtering up to 1,000 milliliters of water an hour. Symptoms of hyperhydration occur more frequently with athletes, habitués of bars and night clubs. Women, who prefer to suppress the feeling of hunger with water, may have such symptoms as well. Drug addicts also make the risk group list. Drugs intensify thirst, and a person may take a lethal dose of water – over two liters in an hour.
Dietitians say that a person should drink one liter of water per 1,000 calories. As a rule, a person takes 2,000 calories daily. However, they take about one liter of water with food – soup, fruit and vegetables, which mainly constitute of water (up to 90 percent). There is a lot of water even in bread – over 40 percent. Additional two liters of water would only create hard conditions for human organs.
Too much water also dilutes gastric juices, which stop being a natural barrier for intestinal infections.
The body needs excessive amounts of water in the cases of poisoning, kidney stone disease, urinary infections, acute infectious diseases, as well as during plane flights, intensive physical exercises and hot weather.