Brooke Shields says she had a grand mal seizure from drinking too much water

Brooke Shields attends the Victoria's Secret "The Tour '23" New York Fashion Week event on...
Brooke Shields attends the Victoria's Secret "The Tour '23" New York Fashion Week event on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 in New York.(Evan Agostini | Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 5:07 PM EDT
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(TMX/Gray News) – Brooke Shields revealed she recently experienced a grand mal seizure from drinking too much water, a rare but scary condition known as water toxicity.

In an interview with Glamour for the magazine’s Women of the Year 2023 issue, Shields said the seizure happened in September when she was preparing for her one-woman show at The Carlyle in New York City.

She said she began drinking a lot of water because she “felt dehydrated” due to “singing more than I’ve ever sung in my life and doing a show and a podcast.”

“I was drinking so much water, and I didn’t know I was low in sodium. I was waiting for an Uber,” she recalled. “I get down to the bottom of the steps, and I start evidently looking weird, and [people] were like, ‘Are you OK?’”

Shields, 58, recovered enough to make her way to L’Artusi in the West Village, but then things got worse.

“Everything starts to go black. Then my hands drop to my side, and I go headfirst into the wall,” she said.

“I start having a grand mal seizure. It means frothing at the mouth, totally blue, trying to swallow my tongue. The next thing I remember, I’m being loaded into an ambulance. I have oxygen on,” she said.

As she took in her surroundings, she realized the person riding in the ambulance holding her hand was actor Bradley Cooper.

The L-Artusi sommelier had attempted to call Shields’ husband, Chris Henchy, but reached an assistant. That assistant contacted another assistant, who called Cooper because he happened to be nearby.

“And then it was like, I walked in with Jesus,” Shields said.

She was admitted to the intensive care unit, where doctors initially thought her “brain was seizing.”

Doctors soon told her she had a seizure caused by drinking too much water, which caused low sodium levels.

“I flooded my system, and I drowned myself,” she said. “And if you don’t have enough sodium in your blood or urine or your body, you can have a seizure.”

Thankfully, Shields went on to make a full recovery.

An Indiana woman died earlier this year from water toxicity while she was on vacation. Ashley Summers, a 35-year-old mom of two, drank four water bottles in 20 minutes after she felt incredibly thirsty from spending all day on a boat.

“If she would have drank Gatorade, or taken in the water more slowly, she would be alive,” her brother wrote in a public Facebook post. “To all my friends, do a little research on water toxicity. It may save someone’s life.”

Water toxicity is also known as water poisoning, water intoxication, and overhydration. It can happen when a person drinks so much water in a short amount of time that the electrolytes in their body, especially sodium, are thrown off balance.

The symptoms include confusion, disorientation, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can cause swelling in the brain, seizures, and even death.

Doctors say it’s hard to know the exact amount of water that causes water toxicity, but they estimate if a person drinks three to four liters of water (about 100-135 oz.) in a short period of time, they are at risk.

People participating in military training or extreme endurance sporting events, like running a marathon, are most at risk. Experts say it’s important to alternate your water intake with a sports beverage that has electrolytes and to eat food.