Learn the Facts: Is Drinking Too Much Water Can Kill You?

The body requires water to function properly, but consuming too much of it too quickly can be harmful to your health. Only 0.8 to 1.0 liters of water may be excreted by the kidneys every hour, and excessive water consumption might disturb the body’s electrolyte balance.

How does drinking too much water can lead to death?


It might be difficult to unintentionally consume too much water, but it can happen occasionally, especially during intense training as well as certain athletic activities.

Common signs of water intoxication include confusion, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting. In rare situations, water intoxication can induce brain enlargement and death.

Whereas, according to PubMed Central

 “The cause of death was given as hyponatremia as a result of acute water intoxication. Water intoxication provokes disturbances in electrolyte balance, resulting in a rapid decrease in serum sodium concentration and eventual death.”

This article discusses the signs, causes, and consequences of water intoxication. It also considers the recommended daily intake of water for individuals.

Various other names for this are:

  • hyperhydration
  • water poisoning
  • water toxicity

The exact amount of water that can kill you is unknown, however physicians don’t advise consuming more than roughly a liter (L) of water every hour for several hours.

Continue reading to find out more about water intoxication, including its signs and when it can be fatal.

What signs might signify a Water Intoxication?

When you drink more than 3 to 4 L of water in a short period of time, symptoms of water intoxication usually start to show themselves.

Possible signs include:

  • a headache
  • your muscles experience spasms, cramps, or weakness.
  • dizziness or vomiting
  • sluggishness and exhaustion

Water intoxication can potentially result in seizures or loss of consciousness in more severe situations. Water intoxication may result in death if it is not treated right away.

What should I do if Symptoms Appear?

It is advisable to seek urgent medical assistance if you or another person is exhibiting any signs or symptoms of water intoxication, particularly seizures or sleepiness. All of the body’s cells, including the brain cells, start to enlarge as the fluid levels rise. If not treated promptly, brain swelling can lead to unconsciousness, convulsions, and much worser death.  While waiting for aid, eating a salty snack may bring some temporary comfort.


The signs of water intoxication might resemble those of dehydration rather closely. Get quick treatment if you are unsure which one you are going through. Water should not be consumed or withheld until the underlying cause of your symptoms has been identified.

How much is too much?

There isn’t a certain volume of water that always results in water poisoning that is fatal.  The best way to think about it is how much water someone drinks in an hour. It can also depend on a person’s age, gender, and general health. A healthy adult’s kidneys can remove 20 to 28 L of water per day, but they can only eliminate around 1 L per hour. When you drink more than 1 L each hour, your kidneys struggle to keep up.  Children and elderly people often have less effective kidneys, therefore the amount of water that they may safely consume every hour may be a little less. Water intoxication can occur more quickly in youngsters and the elderly.

How much Water do you need?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that (CDC), there are no set requirements for how much water an individual should consume daily. Depending on the person’s weight, degree of physical activity, environment, and whether they are nursing, a different quantity is appropriate.

The National Academy of Medicine suggested that men and women between the ages of 19 and 30 each eat around 3.7 liters of water daily in 2004. The 88 rule, which suggests consuming eight 8-ounce glasses of water day, is still adhered to by some people. This, however, was not supported by any studies.  Not everyone can rely on their thirst. For instance, those who are active, elderly people, and pregnant women may need to drink more water each day.  Calories might be taken into account to aid with the proper amount estimation. A person should drink 2,000 milliliters of water daily for every 2,000 calories they need.

What results in Water Toxicity?

Too much water consumption can result in hyponatremia, a condition where your blood’s salt concentration falls dangerously low. If you consume more water than your kidneys can process, the salt in your blood will be diluted, which can cause cells to expand. Most incidents of life-threatening water poisoning that have been documented have included strenuous physical exercise, such military training or marathon running. Others have occurred as a result of excessive water drinking as a result of an underlying mental health disorder or as a form of abuse.

The use of the drug MDMA has also been related to water intoxication, particularly during music events. That’s because individuals are frequently dancing for extended periods of time in these situations while it’s hot. You may drink a lot of water as a result of this and MDMA’s tendency to make you feel hotter.

While this is beneficial for preventing dehydration, because MDMA also induces urine retention, it can soon become excessive. This indicates that you aren’t urinating regularly, which allows your body’s excess fluid to accumulate.

Can it be Avoided?

There are a few general guidelines that can help you prevent water intoxication if you frequently find yourself consuming a lot of water in a short amount of time. When you initially feel thirsty, it’s often preferable to stay with drinking water. Wait until you no longer feel thirsty after you have been satisfied.

A useful sign is also the color of your urine. If your pee is crystal clear, you may be in danger of overdoing it. Clear pee isn’t always a terrible thing on its own, but it’s a sign that you won’t need to drink any water for long. If you’re preparing to engage in an intense workout, think considering hydrating with a sodium-containing electrolyte drink, such as a sports drink.


Although it is unusual, it is possible to die from consuming too much water. You would need to consume a significant amount of water quickly, which is difficult for most people to accomplish unintentionally. But if you engage in a lot of physically demanding activities or are an endurance athlete, your risk may be higher. When this happens, you can typically detect if you need to drink more water by checking the color of your urine and how thirsty you are.

Seek professional help and learn with your doctors regarding this water consumption. Depending on your general health, size, and other criteria, they can provide you with more detailed advice.

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