Water Overdose

Overdose of water

is also called as water intoxication or water poisoning. This condition is very serious as it can cause death. We are well aware of the fact that drinking water is important for our bodies to function in a normal way as our body is mostly made up of water. On the contrary, excessive drinking water can have adverse effects on our body. This is a grave condition. This causes a change in the electrolyte balance which impairs the brain functioning. The condition is more prevalent in athletes and marathon runners. Read on to know more about the pathophysiology and symptoms of water overdose.

Pathophysiology and Symptoms

When a person starts drinking excessive amounts of water, there is a very

low solute concentration

in the fluid present outside the cells compared to the fluid present inside the cell. These include electrolytes and sodium.

Due to the process of osmosis, this fluid lying outside the cells flows into the cells as there is a difference in the solute concentration. This flow of the fluid is required to balance the solute concentration in the body. Ultimately, this leads to swelling of the cells.

If this swelling occurs in the brain, a rise in the intracranial pressure is seen. This finally leads to water overdose symptoms. The symptoms of water overdose include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Irritability, mental confusion, behavioral and personality changes
  • Headache
  • Can severely affect the important regulatory activities that are controlled by the brain. May lead to widened pulse pressure and bradycardia (decreased heart rate)
  • Coma, irreversible brain damage or seizures may occur if the edema is severe and presses the brain stem
    Fatal if the symptoms are not dealt in the early stages

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