From Healthy Hydration to ICU: Brooke Shields' Water Toxicity Experience

Shield's story is yet another incident that shows drinking too much water can be dangerous.

In a September interview with Glamour, Brooke Shields revealed she suffered a "full-blown grand mal seizure" after her sodium levels dropped due to overhydration.

The 58-year-old model, actor, and entrepreneur told Glamour she drank too much water while preparing for her one-woman show at Carlyle Café in New York City. While waiting for an Uber, Shields experienced a seizure, ultimately resulting in loss of consciousness.

"The next thing I remember, I'm being loaded into an ambulance. I have oxygen on. And Bradley […] Cooper is sitting next to me holding my hand," Shields explained in the interview.

Shields' seizure occurred because she consumed excess water too quickly , which caused sodium levels in her blood to plummet.

"I flooded my system, and I drowned myself," Shields explained. "And if you don't have enough sodium in your blood or urine or your body, you can have a seizure."

According to Shields, her doctor told her to eat more potato chips every day to increase her sodium levels.

Shields isn't the only high-profile person to experience adverse effects from drinking water in excessive amounts. This past summer, TikToker Michelle Fairburn suffered water toxicity while following a strict workout regime called "75 Hard Challenge." She, too, had low sodium levels due to high water intake.

Reports also speculate that excessive water intake may have contributed to Bruce Lee's death in 1973.

The dangers of overhydration

The CDC says there are no definitive recommendations on how much water a person needs. However, a 2004 report from The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine suggests adult women should drink 91 ounces, and men should consume 125 ounces of water per day.

Yet, some research suggests that the amount should be tailored to the individual's energy expenditure.

Although water toxicity is rare, drinking too much water, especially in a short amount of time, can happen during exercise or water drinking competitions. People with psychogenic polydipsia, a condition characterized by excessive thirst, can also experience water toxicity.

Excessive water intake can overload the kidneys to the point where water is no longer filtered out of the bloodstream effectively. As a result, electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium become diluted, and the overhydrated person experiences symptoms such as lethargy, balance issues, confusion, and seizures.

Drinking tons of water in a short period isn’t the only way to become overhydrated. Mild overhydration, which is less severe, can occur in people who drink higher amounts of water throughout the day than what's considered average. Signs of mild water toxicity include brain fog, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, muscle spasms or cramps, and headaches.

The best way for a person to determine if they are overhydrated is to examine the urine. If the urine is transparent or colorless instead of having a light-to-medium yellow hue, it indicates the individual may be experiencing overhydration.

If someone thinks they or another person is experiencing water toxicity, call 911 and seek medical help immediately.

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