What is water intoxication? How is this related to salt concentrations and the kidney?

1 Answer
Mar 27, 2018

Water intoxication is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions and it results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is outside safe limits of overhydration.


It is also known as dilutional hyponatremia and develops because the intake of water exceeds the kidney's ability to eliminate water. As a result, the sodium concentration in the blood is diluted. A decrease in sodium levels inhibits the secretion of antidiuretic hormone and consequently the excreted amount of water via the kidneys increases.

The osmolarity of the extracellular space is low and that in the intracellular space is high, so water moves from extracellular space to intracellular space to maintain the osmolarity at a consistent level. This results in the development of cellular edema.