A mother of two, Michelle Whitehead, has died of brain swelling in a hospital after drinking too much of water.
The 45-year-old woman died in a hospital in England, Millbrook Mental Health Unit, following a mental health breakdown.
Drinking too much of water, which is medically known as water intoxication, have serious health consequences. The symptoms can include confusion, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting. In rare cases, water intoxication can cause swelling in the brain and become fatal.
Michelle began drinking water excessively while at the unit and slipped into a coma after reaching dangerously low sodium levels, which led to brain swelling.
Although psychogenic polydipsia, a recognized psychiatric disorder characterized by excessive water consumption, was apparent, the staff failed to identify it in Michelle. Consequently, she retained unrestricted access to water. She was later tranquilized, entering a coma, but the staff mistakenly perceived it as her merely falling asleep.
She died two days later after being transported to a hospital.
Michelle’s husband, Michael Whitehead told BBC news, “When Michelle [seemingly] fell asleep, staff should have realized something was very wrong. Had they acted earlier Michelle would have been taken to ICU and put on a drip. That would have saved her life. By the time they realized what was happening, the same course of action was far too late”.
He called Michelle “warm, caring and easy to love,” noting she had previously quit her job to be a fulltime carer for one of their sons who suffered from Down syndrome.
“Michelle was an amazing person, and the last few days of her life do not represent who she was”.