Although the tongue weighs very little, very few people are able to hold it. -Anonymous
Question #2656 posted on 01/26/2004 12:02 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

could you ever drink so much water that your bladder would explode?

- already had 4 nalgene's today

A: Dear About to Burst,

Once upon a time there was an astronomer named Tycho Braehe. Tycho enjoyed his wine. Tycho also enjoyed attending feasts with the king. In the days of Tycho, nobody left the feast before the king did, if you tried the kind would have you killed. One night, Tycho went to one of the kings feasts and drank too much wine. Unfortunately for Tycho, the kind didn't really feel like leaving the feast that night. Tycho squirmed and squirmed and squirmed, and the king stayed and stayed and stayed. Tycho was in trouble. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't leave the feast to relieve himself, the king would kill him. He also didn't want to wet his pants, because that would look pretty silly. What was Tycho to do? He couldn't figure anything out, and still the king stayed. Pretty soon, Tycho's body couldn't handle the pressure, and Tycho's bladder burst. Before many days had passed, Tycho died of an infection due to a burst bladder. Poor Tycho.

-Phoenix, who has no idea what Tycho did to further astronomy, but will never forget him nonetheless
A: Dear heavy drinker (and Phoenix):

Tycho Brahe's refusal to relieve himself caused an actually not-uncommon condition: urinary retention. Anything from a semi-passed kidney stone to prostate problems to an overly tight bladder sphincter can cause urinary retention (and Brahe's case was probably a mix of the latter two). Once the condition sets in, wastes start to back up into the kidneys (causing bleeding from the kidneys as the capillaries burst under pressure). And the most common way to relieve the pressure is catheterization, which actually was a procedure practiced in Brahe's day.

We're not really sure if Brahe got catheterized, if his plumbing unclogged itself, or if he just continued to suffer immense agony for several days. What is clear from some modern autopsies is that he took medicine to treat the condition, and that the medicine was the real cause of his demise: it contained quite a bit of mercury.

As long as you relieve yourself when needed, you shouldn't have a problem from the water itself. However, drinking excessive water leaches salts, sugars and other water-soluble materials from your system, so you'd have to watch out for that.

-- Misaneroth