Mom dies from drinking too much water, family says

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WRTV) – An Indiana family warned people that in the hot summer months you can drink too much water, and it can be deadly.

Ashley Miller, a 35-year-old mother, died from water toxicity while out in the sun over the Fourth of July weekend.

Her brother, Devon Miller, said she loved being on the water. That’s how she spent her holiday weekend, out on Lake Freeman with her husband and two daughters.

“They were out on the boat all week and long Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday,” Devon Miller said.

He says that Tuesday was when he got the call that something wasn’t right.

“My sister Holly called me, and she was just an absolute wreck,” he said. “She’s like, ‘Ashley’s 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, it’s not looking good.’”

Earlier that day, her family said she was feeling dehydrated and felt like she couldn’t drink enough water. She felt lightheaded and had a headache.

“Someone said that she drank four bottles of water in that 20 minutes. And I mean, you know, average water bottle is, her bottle of water is like 16 ounces,” Devon Miller said. “So, that was 64 ounces that she drank in the span of 20 minutes. That’s half a gallon. That’s what you’re supposed to drink in a whole day.”

Ashley made it home that night but passed out in her garage. She never regained consciousness.

Doctors told the family she died from water toxicity.

“It was a shock to all of us when they first started talking about water toxicity. And it was like, ‘This is a thing?’” her brother said.

Dr. Blake Froberg, a toxicologist the Indiana University School of Medicine, said water toxicity occurs when somebody drinks too much water really quickly.

“There are certain things that can make somebody 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.

He says it’s a rare occurrence, but during the summer months or for someone that works outside or exercises a lot, it’s important to have a hydration plan. They need to drink things that have electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

“The warning takeaway that I take from it is if I’m thirsty and I drink a bottle of water and I still feel like I haven’t got enough that might be the, the light bulb for me to go, ‘OK, you know what? I need to drink a Gatorade,” Devon Miller said.

Some of the symptoms associated with water toxicity are feeling generally unwell, having muscle cramps and soreness, and experiencing nausea, as well as headaches.

The family says Ashley Summers was an organ donor and was able to save five others’ lives.

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