CHICAGO — A report details the first known case in which a person showed the symptoms of intoxication after drinking a large quantity of water to make herself urinate for a drug test.
A 40-year-old flight attendant drank three liters of water in three hours when she was unable to produce urine for the test, according to the report in the Jan. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
The woman was still unable to urinate and was sent home. Eight hours later, she was taken to a Burlingame, Calif., hospital after she demonstrated confusion, slurred speech and a unsteady gait.
The woman denied use of drugs, tobacco or laxatives, and her medical history offered no explanation, the report said. Doctors concluded that she was suffering from water intoxication--a condition caused by drinking too much water.
The authors, Dr. David Klonoff and Dr. Andrew Jurow of Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, said the woman's case points to a need to look into the effects drinking a lot of water has on drug test results.
"As the practice of urine drug testing in the workplace becomes increasingly common, the incidence of water intoxication may increase," the doctors wrote.
The report recommended that those being tested for drugs not be allowed to drink more than one liter of water before the test.