• Question: can you drown from the inside of your body out?

    Asked by prosyndicate to clairemarieroberts, Faye, Martin, Mus, Pete on 20 Apr 2012.
    • Photo: Pete Etchells

      Pete Etchells answered on 20 Apr 2012:

      You can indeed drown from the inside of your body out, although technically, drowning always involves the inside of the body. Most drownings occur when a person is in water, and is caused by water entering the lungs, resulting in suffocation. However, there is a condition called a ‘pulmonary edema’, in which bodily fluid (like blood) builds up in the lungs, again causing suffocation – so in this instance you don’t have to be in or near water. Apparently it occurs in about 1-2% of the population, so thankfully it’s quite rare.

      I hope that answers your question!

    • Photo: Martin Lindley

      Martin Lindley answered on 20 Apr 2012:

      Hi prosyndicate

      Pete is quite right in his answer and I would add that pulmonary oedema is a common at high altitude whihc means many mountain climbers can suffer from this condition. The good news for them is that reducing altitude (coming back down the mountain) will help tremendously so it is easily treated….if you can get down the moutain !

      If your question is more linked to ‘can you drink too much water’ then this would not be drowning but yes you can drink too much water and it can be very dangerous.

      The good news is that you have to drink a lot more water than you are losing (ie sweating) before it causes ‘hyponatraemia’, which is when you drink so much watr your bodies salt balance goes out of tilt.

      It is an unusual condition and normally quite rare so you should not worry about it…unless you drink liters upon liters of water in a single sitting.

    • Photo: Faye Didymus

      Faye Didymus answered on 20 Apr 2012:

      Great question prosyndicate! I don’t know much about this topic because I do more psychology than I do physiology, which is the bit of science that would cover what you’re asking about. Pete and Martin seem to have given great answers so I’ll leave it to them as the experts 🙂 Thanks for asking such a great question though!