Woman dies after drinking too much water at once
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A woman died after drinking too much water in just 20 minutes after complaining that no amount of water could satisfy her thirst.
Mother-of-two Ashley Summers, 35, died from water intoxication not long after spending the day with her family on 6 July.
The daycare worker from Monticello, Indiana, complained of feeling lightheaded and experiencing headache, which are the symptoms of dehydration. Although she drank water, it did not alleviate the symptoms and she ended up drinking the equivalent of four 16oz (500ml) bottles in 20 minutes.
The Summers family had visited Lake Freeman, a popular summer destination around 80 miles north of Indianapolis, on a weekend holiday boat adventure. The family were on vacation between Saturday, 1 July and Tuesday, 4 July.
On Tuesday morning, Ms Summers began feeling dehydrated and could not drink enough water to treat her symptoms, her family said.
Ms Summers returned home and collapsed in her garage on the last day of her trip over the long Independence Day July weekend. She never regained consciousness after suffering severe brain swelling. Her cells filled with water and became swollen, including the cells in her brain, stopping blood flow.
Doctors at the University Health Arnett Hospital diagnosed her with water toxicity, which develops when there is too much water in the body and not enough sodium. Ms Summers had died from drinking too much water in too little time.
Her brother, Devon Miller, was in disbelief when he heard about his sister’s condition. “It was a big shock to us all,” he told WLFITV “I was just like, this is a thing?”
He added: “She just felt like she couldn't get enough water... When they left the sand bar to when they got to the dock, it was about a 20-minute boat ride ... she drank four bottles of water in that 20 minutes.”
Mr Summers recalled the disturbing phone call he got from his other sister telling him about their sibling’s grave condition. He recalled: “My sister, Holly, called me, and she was just an absolute wreck. 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.’”
Water intoxication, which is also known as hyponatremia, overwhelms the complex organ systems in the body and its ability to regulate fluids, primarily the kidneys.
Ultimately, the body must achieve an equilibrium between water and electrolytes - such as sodium, potassium and chloride - to ensure proper cell function.
Sodium helps in the absorption of nutrients in kidneys and digestive system while it's also important to maintain electrical impulses between cells.