Mom, 35, Dies From Drinking 4 Bottles of Water in 20 Minutes
A dehydrated woman drank a lot of water and died shortly after.
Staying properly hydrated is a crucial part of overall health. Water helps eliminate waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements, keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, and helps protect sensitive tissues, explains the Mayo Clinic. How much water should you drink? According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should drink about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day and women about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids, with the exact amount relying on a variety of factors including external temperature and activity level. However, too much of a good thing can be deadly when it comes to water. This week a 35-year-old mother died after drinking too much water too fast. Here is what you need to know about her tragic death, including how to avoid a similar fate.
Ashley Summers, 35, was near Monticello at Lake Freeman in Indiana over the 4th of July weekend. The temperature was high and she was hot, she chugged a bunch of water fast, according to her brother.
"Someone said she drank four bottles of water in 20 minutes," Devon Miller told WRTV. "I mean, an average water bottle is like 16 ounces, so that was 64 ounces that she drank in a span of 20 minutes. That's half a gallon. That's what you're supposed to drink in a whole day."
According to Miller, Summers complained of feeling dehydrated, lightheaded, and had a headache. She even said she felt like she could not drink enough water.
She passed out in her garage after chugging the water. When she arrived at the hospital, she had brain swelling as a result of water toxicity. She never regained consciousness and died.
"It was a shock to all of us," Miller said. "When they first started talking about water toxicity. It was like, 'this is a thing?'" Her family added that Summers was an organ donor and donated her heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and some of her long bone tissue to help save five other lives.
Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD/N, ACSM-CPT, Board Certified Sports Dietitian Certified Personal Trainer, American College of Sports Medicine, explains that hyponatremia "is not just 'water intoxication' but low blood sodium. If she had drunk electrolytes with the water, then this may not have happened," she says. Collingwood also says there's a good chance the woman had something else going on medically. "Four bottles of water in 20 minutes is a lot to drink, but the average person would not die of hyponatremia from just that amount. I have to believe there was something else going on that led up to this," she says.
In general, "in the extreme heat we are all experiencing this summer, it is a good idea for people to hydrate with electrolyte drinks (Liquid IV, Precision Hydration, LMNT) or sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) that have sodium in them," Collingwood recommends. "Certain sports drinks like Prime and Body Armor have VERY little sodium, so make sure you are reading labels to make sure you are getting sodium in your drinks. Not all electrolyte drinks and sports drinks are created equal."
If you are feeling unusually ill from the heat, seek medical help, she adds. "An IV containing sodium would have saved her life instead of just drinking plain water."