NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s advice we hear over and over again: drink more water and you’ll be healthier.
But in some cases, drinking too much water can be deadly.
As CBS2’s Maurice DuBois reported, marathon runner Frederic Lecao had experienced cramps during races in the past and wanted to do everything he could to avoid that again.
“I was literally taking a sip every five minutes,” said Lecao.
But when it came to staying hydrated, he overdid it and suffered severe consequences.
“I was literally on the ground screaming in pain,” he said.
Lecao drank almost 13 cups of water after a little more than half a marathon.
“My whole body shut down,” he said.
What he suffered from is called hyponatremia, a dangerously low level of sodium or electrolytes in the blood.
In the end, Lecao was lucky. Dr. Scott Weiss said the outcome could have been much worse.
“When it’s out of whack, and there is too much water and the sodium drops, there can be issues with the heart, there can be issues with the muscles, there can be issues with the central nervous system,” said Dr. Weiss.
In fact, drinking water in excessive amounts actually killed 28-year-old Jennifer Strange, who was participating in a radio contest to drink as much water as possible to win a gaming system.
And a 17-year-old football player who reportedly drank 2 gallons of water after practice. He died a short time later.
“Some patients are just over compensating based on information that they heard. It’s good to drink water,” said Dr. Ben Stein, with Go Health Urgent Care.
But they could be doing more harm than good, Stein said.
“If someone’s had too much water, generally they will feel confused, getting to the point where the brain is starting to swell a little bit. They may feel fatigued, some malaise or confusion,” Dr. Stein added.
And Dr. Weiss said there is no size fits all formula for how much to drink, but suggests this guideline:
“Two- housand calories most people will take in on an average diet and with 2,000 milliliters, that’s really 2 liters. So really, 2 liters of water is normal for a day,” he said.
And 2 liters translates to about eight to 10 cups for the entire day.