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Eating and Drinking competitions are common. Hamburger or samosa eating competitions for example. It’s about who can eat the most in the fixed amount of time, usually 15 mins to 30 mins.

The eating competitions are usually quite safe except for a choking hazard. If you eat too much, the body will simply reject it. The competitor will throw up and empty his stomach. It’s also quite easy to make yourself throw up by sticking a finger into the back of the mouth and inviting the gag reflex.

But it’s a wholly different ballgame with drinking competitions. Whether it be an innocent sounding water drinking competition or tequila/liquor shots in a bar.

The water drinking competitions are the most dangerous, simply because people assume that it’s safe to drink water. They couldn’t be more wrong!

Drinking an excessive amount of water in a very short time can cause water poisoning. This could happen with as little as two liters of water consumed by an adult within a half hour window, and 4 to 6 liters can be fatal.

It will cause an increase in blood volume and a rapid drop in electrolyte levels, specifically sodium. Symptoms include confusion, nausea and vomiting. Severe cases can cause seizures, coma and death.

Water poisoning is quite common and more than half a million cases happen in India every year.

Similarly, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a very short period of time (1-2 hours) will cause alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can result in death.

Alcohol poisoning is even more common than water poisoning, with well over 5 million cases every year in India.

Avoid the ‘all you can drink’ competitions people. They can kill you. Don’t organise one either, as you could get arrested and charged if a mishap happens.

I have seen ‘all you can drink’ competitions conducted in schools, as well as ‘all you can drink’ competitions advertised by bars.

‘All you can drink’ competitions must not be allowed and we must have a law against it.

Another interesting thing about drinking water that many people are ignorant about, is when they follow the advice to “drink a lot of water”, or “drink a glass of water every hour” and more like this. This advice is flawed and can be unsafe for many people.

It is important to stay well hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to look at the color of urine or volume of urine. If your urine is dark yellow or if the volume of urine is low, you may be dehydrated. You must get adequate water, which is typically 2 to 3 liters for an adult. Please remember that you get some of this water from other beverages like tea, coffee, soft drinks, juices etc. and also from food.

Excessive daily water consumption will result in electrolyte imbalances which may lead to unpleasant symptoms and chronic disease.

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