“Water Can Kill?” by Susan D. Hester
NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE
Water Can Kill?
Susan D. Hester Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Part I – Three True Stories
Case 1: Jennifer Strange 1,2
Jennifer Strange was a 28-year-old mother of three who entered a radio contest to try to win a Nintendo Wii game system for her children. As part of KDND’s “Hold your wee for a Wii” contest, Jennifer drank bottle after bottle of water for hours without urinating.
Initially, Jennifer seemed to be having fun, joking lightheartedly with the radio hosts and obligingly downing an ...view middle of the document...
During a session that focused on how to dismount a bike, an instructor noticed that McBride looked ill and asked him to sit down. McBride complained of dizziness and nausea, and then vomited. Officers initially thought he might have suffered heat stroke. Unaware that James had already consumed so much water, they gave him more water to cool him down while he sat out of the exercise.
When another officer hurt himself during the exercise, an ambulance was summoned. The paramedics noticed that James was convulsing and continuing to vomit, so they brought him to the hospital. He died in the hospital the next day.
1. What sort of environment (hypertonic, isotonic, hypotonic) does consuming excessive amounts of pure water create in the body fluid that surrounds your cells?
When you consume too much water it creates a hypotonic environment in the fluid surrounding the cells. (A&P textbook pg 115)
2. What effect would this environment from question 1 have on your cells?
This would cause access water to be absorbed into the cell. This would effect would result in swelling of the cells. (A&P textbook pg 115)
3. What types of symptoms did Jennifer, Cassandra, and James have in common? Which organ or tissue seems to have been most affected?
Nausea or vomiting, dizziness and headaches were the symptoms that these three had in common. Even though none of Cassandras symptoms were listed it can be assumed that she suffered these same similar symptoms. The most likely organ would be the brain which is composed of nervous tissue.
4. Keeping in mind your answers to questions 1 and 2, what do you think the immediate cause of death was for Jennifer, Cassandra, and James?
The immediate cause would have to be the swelling of the brain and the vessels in it. This swelling causes the brain to push on the skull and eventually causes brain death which led to the sudden death of all three of them. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1770067/)
5. If you suspected that a patient’s symptoms were caused by the condition suffered by Jennifer, Cassandra, and James, what kinds of test would you run to confirm your suspicions?
The best way to test if they had too much water in there system would be, a urine and blood test. This would be because, the sodium that would be lost during the excess consumption of water that could be determined by the urine test. The blood test would also show the low sodium and also determine the osmolarity of the blood.
6. Once you knew the cause of their symptoms, what kind of emergency treatment might you try for a patient like Cassandra or James if you were the doctor in charge of their care?
The first thing I would do is administer saline solution through an IV. Then I would see if I could remove the excess by giving them a diuretic to help the dispose of some of the fluids. ...