Can Adult Humans Really Die after Drinking Too Much Water?

Have you read the news after the baby who died after his parents gave him breastmilk mixed with water? The child, unfortunately, died of water intoxication due to ingestion of too much water. It appears that infants less than a year old are more prone to water intoxication because of their smaller mass.

So, we ask this question: can adult humans really die after drinking too much water?

The answer is very surprising: yes!

We are all told that it is important to drink around 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Drinking less than that amount makes the body dehydrated, leading to several problems. That’s no news to most of us since we already know the effects of dehydration but did you know that drinking too much water is also harmful?

In fact, overhydration can lead to water intoxication, a condition that could actually be fatal because it targets the brain!


Unless you were drinking flavored water mixed with sports drinks and salts, you are actually taking in liquid which lacks electrolytes. By taking in more water, you are creating an imbalance in the number of electrolytes in the cells. Normally, the kidneys can help remove the excess water from your body; however there is a limit to how much the kidneys can process.

With more water coming in but less water coming out, the cells are forced to take in more so as to even out the proportion of electrolytes. When this happens, the cells expand.

Now, the cells in the body have room for expansion but brain cells have a different situation. This tightly knit community of cells does not actually have room to expand. So, when the cells swell from too much water, it could lead to headaches and confusion. Worse, this could lead to seizures, coma, and death!

Considering, however, that adult bodies have a larger mass compared with infant bodies, it would take a lot of water to cause extreme water intoxication that might lead to death. Certain circumstances sometimes make some people more susceptible to water intoxication but the rates are not as alarming in adults as it is in babies.

To learn more about this question, check out the video by AsapSCIENCE here;

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