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How Do I Prevent Water Intoxication?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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The primary ways to prevent water intoxication include taking care to avoid drinking an overabundance of water and avoiding excessive sweating. If you are participating in high-intensity exercise, you may also do well to drink sports beverages that contain significant amounts of sodium. Likewise, in the days leading up to a competition that will involve a good deal of physical exertion, you may do well to increase the amount of salt you consume. Additionally, you might find it beneficial to avoid medicines that are referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as they have been associated with an increased risk of this serious problem.

Most people are well aware of the fact that water is good for the human body, but may not be aware that consuming too much of it can actually prove harmful. If you drink too much ordinary water, whether spring, filtered, or from the tap, this can lower the amount of sodium in your blood. Eventually, this can lead to such symptoms as nausea, cramps, or confusion. When the condition grows very severe, coma and death may also result. As such, one of the best ways to prevent water intoxication is by making sure you do not drink an abnormal amount of plain water.

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You can also prevent water intoxication by avoiding excessive sweating. When you sweat excessively, your body actually sheds much needed sodium through your skin. This can result in an upset in your blood concentration of sodium. If you do not take steps to replace this sodium as you are losing it, you could suffer from water intoxication.

If you are engaging in strenuous exercises, heavy sweating is a natural result. You might have the urge to drink more water as a result of your hard workout. To prevent water intoxication in such a case, you may find it more beneficial to consume sports drinks that have significant sodium contents. Though you may feel tempted to replace the fluids you lose during exercise with cold water, this will not help prevent water intoxication and is likely to make your risk for it even worse.

If you know you have a competition coming up or will begin an exercise routine that involves heavy exertion and sweating, you can prepare for it and work to prevent this health problem ahead of time. For example, you may do well to begin eating foods that contain sodium several days before you will begin your extreme workout or competition. Interestingly, you may also choose to avoid medicines that are referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, as they have been associated with an increased risk of water intoxication when used by athletes.

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Ruggercat68
Post 2

@Buster29- There was another incident of fatal water intoxication at a radio station near my city. There was an on-air contest where competitors had to drink as many bottles of water as possible in order to win a free vacation. I can't remember how many bottles the winner drank, but it was a seriously high number.

The DJs awarded him the prize and asked him to step out of the booth. As soon as he stood up, he vomited and then collapsed. He didn't show many water intoxication symptoms at the time, but later on his doctor said his blood was so saturated with water than he could produce any electrolytes. His heart muscles gave out, essentially.

I'd say the best way to prevent water intoxication is to realize there is such a thing as drinking too much water. Some people are convinced they need to drink tons of water after a workout, but it's just not so.

Buster29
Post 1

I remember reading a story about a fraternity pledge who died from water intoxication during a hazing incident. Apparently he was forced to drink several gallons of water in a short period of time and he ended up passing out. Someone drove him to the emergency room, but didn't give the doctor all of the details at first. When the blood tests came back, the doctor realized he had most of the classic water intoxication symptoms. There wasn't much he could do to save the boy's life, though.

I didn't realize someone could actually die from drinking too much water until I read that article. I'd always been told to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day, at least. This poor kid drank the equivalent of 24 glasses of water in about an hour, they think.

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