Too Much Water Can Kill You

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When you’re exercising or it’s hot outside, drink lots of water. It’s how you stay hydrated.

But can there be too much water? In rare cases, drinking an extreme amount in a short time can be dangerous.

It can cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. That’s a condition called hyponatremia. It’s very serious, and potentially fatal. It is also called ‘water intoxication’.

How much would you have to drink? An enormous amount of water can kill you, gallons and gallons of water, according to Sharon Bergquist, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“These are very isolated cases, and this is extremely rare. More people by far and away are dehydrated, [rather] than having a problem with over-hydration.”

Chris McStay, an emergency medicine doctor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says it happens very rarely, though.

“Young, healthy people don’t normally [get hyponatremia] unless they drink liters and liters of water at once, because your kidneys can only [expel] about half a liter at most an hour. You’re drinking more than your kidneys can pee out.”


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