The United States is devastated by the death of a young mother of two from drinking water in the heat. In fact, such tragedies occasionally occur. We explain why they happen and how to avoid them.
The tragedy happened at Lake Freeman, a popular vacation spot in Indiana. Family Ashley Summers I spent my holidays there and everything was great.
2 liters of water in 20 minutes
But one day she felt unwell, she developed dizziness and intense thirst (the situation is quite common in the heat). Ashley said she wanted to drink a lot of water and did so. Soon she lost consciousness and died in the hospital, where she was urgently taken.
As it was later calculated, the woman drank a little less than two liters in 20 minutes. This corresponds to approximately the daily rate of water consumption. Why, then, taken during the day, it has a healing effect, and drunk quickly can kill? This is called water intoxication or water intoxication.
Water will not always find a hole
This happens when several conditions match. The first, as you already understood, is the rapid absorption of a large amount of liquid. The fact is that the kidneys of a healthy person can excrete from 800 to 1000 ml of water per hour. And therefore, everything that is drunk within an hour beyond this remains in the body. Water is distributed between the blood, cells and intercellular space and is excreted later.
But things can be different if there is little sodium in the body (this is called hyponatremia). This is the second condition for the development of water intoxication. Water always goes where there is a lot of sodium, and since there is little of it in the blood, it does not return from the cells and intercellular space to the vascular bed. And accordingly, it is not excreted through the kidneys. Swelling of many organs can develop, and the most dangerous is swelling of the brain. The cranial box does not allow it to expand, unlike other organs that are not limited by such a hard case. Due to cerebral edema, convulsions, coma develop, and then – respiratory arrest and death.
Heat, sports and human stupidity
There are several typical situations when hyponatremia can develop. Most often it is heavy physical activity or extreme heat. And the combination of these factors is especially dangerous. Why? In both cases, sodium is lost in sweat, and it is no coincidence that it tastes salty. And if in such a situation you drink a lot of liquid at once, the risk of developing water intoxication is high. Such cases are described in marathon runners and in many other sports. There are similar deaths due to human stupidity.
For example, in 2005, a young man died during an initiation ritual at the University of California. He had to do push-ups to exhaustion, and in between sets he was forced to drink plenty of water. There were deaths due to stupidity and greed at the same time. Live in the USA, there was a competition: the winner who drank the most water won the Nintendo game console. A 28-year-old woman from California drank about six liters of water in three hours, she developed a terrible headache, and after returning home she died. The cause of death was water intoxication.
How can this be avoided? Especially now, when it’s hot, and indeed in summer, when thirst torments us more and more.
Rule one: do not bring the matter to thirst, drink without waiting for the feeling of thirst.
Rule two: instead of thirst, a person may feel weak, have a headache, and children may simply be capricious (they are even more prone to this); try not to bring yourself and children to such a state, drink a little every half an hour or an hour and do not forget that children are applied to a bottle of water with the same frequency.
The third rule: if you sweat a lot due to heat or physical exertion, it is better to drink mineral water, but not medicinal, but medicinal table water (the salt content in it is 1-10 g / l, this is enough).
The worst thing in this situation is drinking water purified by reverse osmosis – it contains very little salt. This applies to home water, if you have such a purification system, and bottled water. In the latter case, after purification, salts are added to the water. But as consumer expertise shows, sometimes they save on them – some, even popular brands of drinking water, contain extremely little salt. And this is not very good, as it contributes to the leaching of minerals from tissues and organs.