Should you drink excess water? Is there any side effects for excess water consumption? Well, let’s see!
Water consumption(Drinking water) is one of the ancient practice which will never stop till probably THE END OF THE WORLD (If it’s ever gonna end as said). In fact, the whole world can NEVER do without water, the body system needs water to regulate properly, the wildlife, the plants, almost EVERYTHING NEEDS WATER TO SURVIVE. But it’s said that “too much of everything is bad“, right? What then does too much of water consumption does to the body? Here you go…
1. Causes Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is a decrease in sodium levels below 135 mEq/L blood serum. It happens due to rapid overhydration. Sodium is an important salt that helps in cell signaling and various other functions in the body. So, when your serum sodium levels drop, you start feeling nauseous, disoriented, fatigued, or get a headache. In severe cases, it might also lead to death.
2. Causes The Cells To Swell Up
When the sodium level in your body decreases, water enters the cell through the semipermeable cell membrane through the process of osmosis. This results in swelling up of the cells. The swelling of the body cells (including the brain) causes serious damage to the muscle tissues, organs, and brain.
3. May Cause Diarrhea
Overhydration may result in severe diarrhea and prolonged sweating. It is caused due to hypokalemia or a decrease in potassium ions. The balance between intracellular and extracellular potassium ions is hampered when you drink too much water. In fact, a mere 1% change in potassium ion distribution can lead to a whopping 50% change in plasma potassium ion concentration.
4. Affects The Brain
Hyponatremia or low sodium in the blood can cause the brain to swell up. This, in turn, results in speech disability, disorientation, walking instability, psychosis, and even death.
5. Overburdens The Heart
Overhydration may lead to heart failure in people undergoing dialysis. The heart performs the vital function of pumping blood through your entire body. When you consume too much water, it increases the volume of blood inside your body. The increased blood volume exerts unnecessary pressure on the blood vessels and heart. It may also sometimes lead to seizures.
6. Overburdens The Kidneys
Overhydration may cause acute kidney injury (AKI). High water intake also lowers plasma levels of arginine vasopressin, which helps preserve kidney function. Consuming too much water can put pressure on your kidneys to function constantly. Your kidneys can filter about a liter of fluid per hour from the body. Beyond that, they need to work extra hard to maintain homeostasis.
7. May Cause Liver Problems
It is important to note that this problem is not caused by merely drinking too much water. Rather, it happens by drinking too much water with iron in it. Iron overload is not exactly detrimental, but in rare cases, it may cause liver-related problems. People with liver cirrhosis are prone to developing hyponatremia.
8. Frequent Urination
Frequent urination, say once in every 15 minutes, can be really frustrating, whether you are at home, work, or school. When you drink too much water, your kidneys function constantly. As a result, you need to rush to the washroom again and again.
9. Poses The Risk Of Chlorine Overdose
Chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. But, drinking too much water can put you at risk of chlorine overdose. When that happens, you are at risk of developing bladder and colorectal cancers.
10. Potential Risk Of Coma
The brain and visceral organ damage that your body goes through as a result of water intoxication can lead to coma and, in some cases, death. Therefore, do not drink too much water within a short window of time.
Wondering how to tell when you are drinking too much water? Here’s a list of symptoms you can look out for.
Signs That You Are Drinking Too Much Water
1. You Always Have A Bottle Of Water With You
Do you always carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go and quickly refill it as soon as the water in the bottle is over? You might think that constantly sipping water is helping you, but actually, it is not. It is depleting the electrolytes in your body, leading to further complications.
2. You Are Not Thirsty, But You Still Drink Water
You read somewhere that you should drink 3-4 liters of water per day, and you started forcing yourself to drink this quantity. But did you know that your food also contains water? When you force yourself to drink 3-4 liters of water per day, you are actually drinking way more than your body needs. This might result in overhydration.
3. You Think Clear Urine Is A Sign Of Good Health
Do you keep drinking water until the color of your urine is clear? Well, the sign of a healthy body is pale yellow urine. Clear urine is an indication that you drank too much water and there is an electrolyte imbalance in your body.
4. You Frequently Urinate In The Day And At Night
Do you find yourself running to the washroom every 30 minutes or so? Do you often wake up in the night to use the washroom? It could be because you are overhydrated.
5. You Experience Headaches
Both overhydration and dehydration can cause headache. When you drink too much water, your cells swell up and grow. Your brain cells also get affected the same way, and your brain starts to push against the skull. As a result, you experience a constant headache.
6. You Feel Nauseous
Too much water in your body might hinder your kidney function. This means that your kidneys will get tired and stop flushing out water from the body. This leads to the feeling of nausea and vomiting.
7. Swelling And Discoloration Of The Hands, Feet, And Lips
Drinking too much water can also lead to swelling of the lips, hands, and feet. Since your kidneys are not functioning properly, your body will retain the excess water. You will also gain weight suddenly due to water retention in the body.
8. You Experience Muscle Weakness
Frequent muscle cramping and weakness are two other signs of overhydration. This happens because the electrolyte balance in the body is hampered. To keep your electrolyte levels up, you can drink coconut water instead of just water.
9. You Are Tired
When your kidneys are constantly functioning to help flush out the excess water, your body is stressed out. This impacts how you feel in general. You will feel tired and fatigued if you drink too much water.
How much water should you drink per day? Let’s find out next.
How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the daily fluid intake varies and depends on the person’s age, sex, medical conditions, and daily activity. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends women to drink 2.7 liters (91 oz) of total water (from all food and beverages) and men to drink a total of 3.7 liters (125 oz). Scientists from the Netherlands recommend 2.2 liters of water for women and 3 liters for men per day.
It is clear that it is not true that everyone should drink 3-4 liters of water every day. You must talk to your doctor and restrict your daily water intake to a maximum of 3 liters. Or, use the following calculator to find out your daily water intake.
What should you do if you accidentally drink too much water? How can it be treated? Find out in the following section.
How To Treat Overhydration Or Water Intoxication
Here’s how you can reverse the dangerous side effects of overhydration or water intoxication:
- Stop any further water intake.
- Seek medical attention if you do not feel well and feel like you are going to pass out.
- Stop taking any medication that is causing water retention in the body.
- A doctor may administer sodium to help bring back the balance in your body fluids.
- You may be given diuretics.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Let’s take a look at the following ways to prevent overhydration.
Ways To Prevent Overhydration Or Water Intoxication
Here are a few ways you can stop drinking too much water:
- If you have medical conditions like diabetes or kidney problems, talk to your doctor to find out how much water you should consume.
- If you exercise regularly, you may drink 2-4 cups of water per hour while exercising. If you need more water, drink sports drinks as they contain electrolytes that help balance the salts in your body.
- Endurance athletes should measure their weight before and after a race to determine how much water they lost from the body. The lost water can be replenished without running the risk of overhydration.
People Prone To Overhydration
You might end up drinking too much water if you:
- run marathons or ultramarathons.
- are a hiker or a biker.
- are a triathlete.
- are an elite rower.
- are an endurance cyclist.
- are a soccer player.
- are in military training
- are obsessed with consuming water for “health.”
Water is good for you as long as you do not overdrink it. Take an informed decision on how much water you consume from foods and beverages to keep track of your water intake. If you feel nauseous after drinking water, seek medical help immediately.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
- Can you die from drinking too much water? In the worst-case scenario, yes, you can die if you drink too much water.
- Can you lose weight by drinking water? Drinking water helps flush out toxins and accelerates metabolism. But, that does not mean you can lose all the flab in just a day by drinking water. You must eat good and exercise to lose weight.
- Can drinking too much water make you gain weight? Yes, if you drink too much water, it gets retained in the body. As a result, you gain water weight.
- Are there disadvantages of drinking hot water? Drink warm water if you need to. There are no particular advantages or disadvantages of drinking hot water. Just make sure the water is not too hot.
- How much water is too much in one hour? It depends on what you are doing in that hour. You may sip 250 ml water within an hour. Space your water intake in a way that you do not exceed the daily limit of 3 liters of water.