An Indiana mother of two who told her family it felt like she couldn’t drink enough water to feel satiated collapsed and died from water toxicity — a rare consequence of drinking too much water too quickly.
Ashley Summers, 35, was out at Lake Freeman with her husband and two young daughters over the Fourth of July weekend when she began feeling severely dehydrated.
“Someone said she drank four bottles of water in 20 minutes,” her brother 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.”
On the last day of the family’s trip, the mom began feeling like she couldn’t drink enough water.
Summers’ family said that she was feeling lightheaded and had a stubborn headache, her family said.
“My sister, Holly, called me, and she was just an absolute wreck. She was like ‘Ashley is in the hospital. She has brain swelling, they don’t know what’s causing it, they don’t know what they can do to get it to go down, and it’s not looking good,’” said Miller.
After returning from the trip, Summers passed out in her garage before being taken to IU Health Arnett Hospital.
She never regained consciousness, and doctors told her family she had died from water toxicity.
“It was a shock to all of us. When they first started talking about water toxicity. It was like this is a thing?” Miller recalled.
Dr. Blake Froberg, a toxicologist with the hospital, told the outlet the rare cause of death is more likely to occur during the summer or if someone works outside or exercises frequently.
“There are certain things that can make someone more at risk for it, but the overall thing that happens is that you have too much water and not enough sodium in your body,” Froberg said, later noting it’s important for people to drink things that have electrolytes, sodium and potassium.
Symptoms of water toxicity include feeling generally unwell as well as having muscle cramps, soreness, nausea and headaches.
Summers was an organ donor and was able to donate her heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and some of her long bone tissue, ultimately saving five other lives, her family said.