- A woman was treated in King’s College Hospital after overdosing on water
- The 59-year-old woman ended up suffering dangerously low salt levels
Telling people to ‘drink plenty of fluids’ when unwell could be dangerous, doctors have warned.
Experts at King’s College Hospital in south London questioned the recommendation after treating a 59-year-old woman who drank so much water that she became gravely ill.
The woman, who is not named, overdosed on water after developing symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
She recalled being told by a doctor previously to drink lots of water – half a pint every 30 minutes – though she said she thought in this case, she had consumed more to ‘flush out her system’.
The woman was admitted to A&E, where doctors found she was suffering from dangerously low levels of salt in her blood.
This can occur if too much water is drunk over a short period of time.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and headaches. In serious cases, the brain can swell, which can lead to confusion, seizures, coma and death.
A death rate of almost 30 per cent has been reported in patients with abnormally low salt levels.
Writing in the journal BMJ Case Reports, doctors said there was little evidence to know how much water is too much.