In a recent interview with Glamour, actress Brooke Shields shared her experience of suffering from a seizure while in New York this past September. Shields explained that she was preparing for a show and was unknowingly low on sodium due to excessive water drinking. As she was waiting for an Uber, she started to feel strange and her companions noticed something was wrong. She then walked into a restaurant in a daze and subsequently had a seizure.
According to Dr. Jonathan Parker, a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, excessive water drinking can cause tonic-clonic seizures, which involve a stiffening and jerking of muscles. These seizures can be provoked or unprovoked. In Shields' case, it is likely that her seizure was caused by electrolyte abnormalities resulting from drinking too much water. Drinking excess water dilutes the electrolytes in the blood, leading to a drop in blood sodium levels and the potential for a seizure.
Dr. Parker advises considering factors such as body size, duration of time spent outside, and fluid loss through sweating when determining how much water to drink. The average recommended fluid intake is around 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women in temperate climates, but this includes all types of fluids and hydrating foods. Dr. Parker suggests drinking water based on thirst and paying attention to urine color, with light yellow or almost clear indicating hydration and darker urine suggesting the need for more water.
In terms of recognizing a tonic-clonic seizure, Shields mentioned feeling "weird" before her seizure, which Dr. Parker describes as an "aura" or warning sign that can manifest as a tingling sensation or a feeling of déjà vu. Treatment for these seizures involves removing the provoking agent, such as excessive hydration or a specific medication. Unprovoked seizures are more complex and may require epilepsy medication or surgery.
If individuals experience any of the warning signs mentioned above, it is important to consult a medical professional. While excessive water drinking leading to seizures is rare, understanding the body's hydration needs and recognizing warning signs can help prevent such incidents.