When you think of intoxication, your first thought may understandably be the kind of intoxication that follows heavy drinking. While drinking water doesn’t cause the same effects as having a few beers, excessive amounts of water consumed in a short span of time can lead to an effect known as “water intoxication.”
As Scientific American explains, water intoxication is when the body becomes oversaturated with water. The kidneys, which act as the body’s filter, usually use the water you drink to help flush out waste and toxins from the body. When you drink extreme amounts of water, however, the kidneys become unable to drain the water out fast enough. Think of it like filling a draining bathtub with buckets of water, with the drain being unable to remove such a large amount of water. As excess water floods the body, it begins to seep into your bloodstream and your cells, which absorb the water like a sponge. As your cells expand to hold all of this water, the cells in your brain begin to become tightly packed together and start to swell up. The brain then begins to swell to full capacity against your skull.
Symptoms of water intoxication, according to Healthline, include head pains such as migraines, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and in worst scenarios, seizures or loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know shows signs of these symptoms, it’s recommended to get medical attention immediately.