Man almost died after drinking too much water in misguided bid to treat suspected coronavirus

Marie Claire Dorking
·4 min read
Luke Williamson credits his wife Laura for saving his life.  (SWNS)
Luke Williamson credits his wife Laura for saving his life. (SWNS)

A man who almost died after drinking double the recommended daily amount of water in a misguided bid to cure suspected coronavirus has paid tribute to his wife for helping to save his life.

Luke Williamson, 34, thought he was suffering with COVID-19 during the first lockdown, so began drinking four to five litres of water a day, having been advised to drink plenty of fluids.

But the increased volume flushed almost all the natural sodium from his body, causing water intoxication, which occurs when the body’s salt levels become dangerously low.

The condition almost proved fatal for the civil servant from Patchway, Bristol, when he collapsed in the bathroom.

He believes it was the quick reactions of his wife Laura, 39, who talked to him through the bathroom door to keep him conscious until paramedics arrived, that helped saved his life.

“If it wasn't for her, I wouldn’t be here,” he says.

“She stayed calm and called the ambulance, and sat on the floor with me behind the door.”

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Laura says her husband had been very poorly for a week and had been advised to drink plenty of fluids.

“He went up to have a bath one night and, the next thing you know, there was a huge bang,” she says. “He had got out and collapsed.

“The hospital believe he had a fit caused by his salt levels being flushed out by drinking too much water.

“I went upstairs but couldn’t get in [to the bathroom]. I couldn't get a neighbour round either, because it was lockdown.

Laura and Luke Williamson with their daughter Ava, 6. (SWNS)
Laura and Luke Williamson with their daughter Ava, 6. (SWNS)

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Having called an ambulance, which took 45 minutes to arrive, Laura talked to her husband through the door in a bid to keep him conscious, but says he was completely unresponsive for the last 20 minutes.

“I was talking to him through the door and he was grunting before. I was really worried I had lost him,” she explains.

Laura said paramedics took Luke to Southmead Hospital – and she was told it was touch and go.

“They said they couldn’t make me any promises,” she recalls. “I couldn’t go [in] because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

“They said the next 24 hours were critical.

Luke was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit for two to three days.

“The hospital staff were brilliant,” Laura adds. “They did some tests and corrected his electrolytes. Then he could come home.”

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Luke is now on his way back to full health and is set to start work again full-time in the coming months.

“He had six months off work, signed off,” Laura says.

“When he first went back he did four hours, then six hours.

“He still gets tired.”

Doctors have concluded Luke had water intoxication after having drunk too much water and flushed the sodium out of his body, leading to swelling of the brain.

He estimates he had been drinking four to five litres a day. The recommended amount is six to eight glasses (approx 1.2 litres).

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Luke Williamson nearly died after drinking double the recommended daily amount of water and flushing all of the salt from his body. (SWNS)
Luke Williamson nearly died after drinking double the recommended daily amount of water and flushing all the salt from his body. (SWNS)

Luke is now sharing his story as he wants his wife to be recognised for her actions, both at the time and during his recovery.

The couple have four children who needed help with their homeschooling during the lockdowns.

Laura kept this up while also providing mental health support and helping to arrange food parcel donations for struggling families as part of her work.

She has since left her role as a youth worker and will soon begin working as a teaching assistant in a local school.

Luke, who has nominated his wife in a local “COVID Heroes” campaign, added: “She is truly an amazing woman.”

Overhydration is very rare, but according to Healthline, can lead to water intoxication, which occurs when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in your body become too diluted.

Hyponatremia is a condition in which sodium (salt) levels become dangerously low. This is the main concern of overhydration.

If your electrolytes drop too low too quickly, it can be fatal. While death by overhydration is rare, it can happen.

Additional reporting SWNS.

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