Water Intoxication (Over-hydration): Introduction, Causes and Signs

  • It is the condition in which there is great increase in the water content of the body.
  • It is also known by different names like over-hydration, hyper-hydration, water toxemia, water poisoning or water excess.

Causes of Over-hydration

  • It is the condition which generally occurs when more liquid is consumed than that can be excreted.
  • It is very rare condition that occurs due to excess drinking of water when the body’s system functions normally.
  • But there are some conditions which may lead to water intoxication as given below:
  1. In the case of heart failure where heart cannot pump blood properly
  2. Renal disorders in which the kidney fails to excrete enough water in urine
  3. Hyper-secretion of antidiuretic hormone as in the case of syndrome of inappropriate hyper-secretion of antidiuretic hormone (SIADH)
  4. Unduly large amount of intravenous administration of medications and fluids than the person’s body can excrete
  5. During first month of life in infants, there may appear this problem as the mechanism of kidney is underdeveloped due to which they cannot excrete the fluid rapidly.
  6. This condition is also more common in children who practices swimming a lot as there may be chance of drinking too much water while swimming.
  7. In case of adult, whose heart and kidneys are functioning normally, water intoxication may be noticed if they consume about 8 litre of water regularly.

How much water must I drink to develop water poisoning/intoxication? - Quora            Hyponatremia Or Water Intoxication- a Serious Health Condition which may Kill You

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Signs and Symptoms

  • Some of the signs and symptoms are noticed if one gets water intoxication. They are as follows:
  1. Behavioral changes are noticed first due to the effect of it in the brain as brain is highly vulnerable to this disorder.
  2. One becomes drowsy and inattentive
  3. Occurrence of nausea and vomiting
  4. Sudden loss of weight followed by weakness and blurred vision may be observed
  5. Anemia, acidosis, cyanosis, hemorrhage and shock are also common
  6. Muscular symptoms such as weakness, cramps, twitching, poor coordination and paralysis develop
  7. Severe conditions of water intoxication also result in:
  • Delirium (extreme mental condition characterized by confused state and illusion)
  • Seizures (sudden uncontrolled involuntary muscular contractions)
  • Coma (profound state of unconsciousness, in which the person fails to respond external stimuli and cannot perform voluntary actions)

How To Treat Overhydration Or Water Intoxication          Water intoxication

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Only fluid restriction works for mild water intoxication. In case of severe cases, the treatment may be done as below:

  • Diuretics are used to cause water loss through urine.
  • Antidiuretics hormone (ADH) antagonists are used to prevent ADH-induced reabsorption of water from renal tubules.
  • Intravenous administration of saline to restore sodium.


i) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318619

ii) https://www.healthline.com/health/how-much-water-can-kill-you

Water Intoxication (Over-hydration): Introduction, Causes and Signs