A mom of two from Indiana suffered from a rare case of water toxicity, brought about by drinking too much water too quickly.
On the Fourth of July weekend, 35-year-old Ashley Summers was out at Lake Freeman with her husband and two daughters. Her older brother, Devon Miller, told a news station about his Summers’ love for “being on the water.”
It was July 4 when she had reportedly felt dehydrated, suffering from a headache, and felt lightheaded. That’s when she started to drink a lot of water in a short amount of time.
“Someone said she drank four bottles of water in that 20 minutes. I mean, an average water bottle is like 16 ounces, so that was 64 ounces that she drank in the span of 20 minutes. That’s half a gallon,” Miller said.
Mayo Clinic reports that the adequate daily fluid intake for women is around 2.7 liters, with 20% of that coming from food.
When Summers got home, she passed out in her garage and never regained consciousness. Miller revealed that he had known of the news when his sister, Holly, called him. “She was like ‘Ashley is in the hospital. She has brain swelling, they don’t know what’s causing it, they don’t know what they can do to get it to go down, and it’s not looking good,’” he said.
The cause was hyponatremia, also known as water toxicity. This occurs when sodium levels in your blood become “abnormally low.” Too much water intake can dilute the sodium in your body, which in turn, makes the body’s water level rise and cells swell.
While it appears to be a rare circumstance, water toxicity can be fatal. Underlying medical conditions and consuming alcohol, specifically beer, can also increase the risk of it. Early detection of water intoxication can prevent its severity, which can lead to seizures, coma, and death.
Athletes and people with kidney problems are more prone to hyponatremia. Harvard School of Public Health claims that women and children are also more likely to suffer from this due to their smaller body sizes.
To prevent this from happening to you, Joseph Verbalis, chairman of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center shared a simple advice: “Drink to your thirst. It’s the best indicator.”
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