Saturday, February 28, 2015

Study group discussion: Water intoxication syndrome

Water intoxication syndrome! I remember this from first year physiology!

How does water intoxication syndrome work? How much water does the person have to take?

The water that causes intoxication is mostly through intravenous fluids. I doubt a human being would have the capacity to drink enough water to cause an intoxication orally. I have heard of psychiatric disorders associated with a high water consumption though.

But if you're looking for a number - it's 16 ml/min

If you consume that much in any amount of time, you'll have exceeded intake more than the maximal urine flow.

Ummm, got it! it makes more sense than what I was thinking hahaha

Surely, drinking too much water would cause vomiting or something before the body would allow itself to become intoxicated?
Or massive impermeability of the kidney nephrons?

Does drinking too much water cause vomiting?   How permeable is the upper alimentary canal to water?  Could a large amount of water be absorbed before it reaches the stomach?

Too much water does cause vomiting! The most common symptoms suffered by this group were changes in mental status, emesis, nausea, and seizures. Source:

I think there have been documented cases of people drinking enough water to die.  I imagine it's very difficult, though, and therefore rare.

Mostly psychiatric patients.

Water intoxication also occurs in SIADH and surgical trauma.

Risk factors include low body mass (infants), endurance sports, competitive drinking or latrogenic.
Treatment normally follows strict fluid restriction. In more serious cases, diuretics or vasopressin receptor antagonists are given.

Similar to SIADH treatment!

You know the artist Andy Warhol? He died of water intoxication!


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