Water is a life-saving elixir that fuels our bodies and keeps us moving. Every single day, the top advice shared by fitness experts is to drink more of it. Of course, this leads us to one serious question: can you drink too much water? Believe it or not, overhydration is a serious problem. Read on to learn more.
What is Overhydration?
To start, let’s begin with a definition of “overhydration.” In a nutshell, overhydration is a rare but dangerous condition that happens when someone drinks too much water. This act can overload the kidneys and damage a person’s electrolyte balances. It can be quite serious if not treated.
While your ideal water consumption depends on your weight and other health considerations. Consistently drinking more than your body can handle can put you in a danger zone.
When properly hydrated, all of your body depends on an adequate amount of water. According to HealthLine, drinking the proper amount of water helps your body to:
- regulate your temperature,
- keep your bowel movements regular,
- and flush out waste products,
- as well as generally helping your organs and bodily functions to work as intended.
Unfortunately, drinking too much water can be just as bad as not drinking enough. Overhydration can lead to water intoxication. Among other problems, this can decrease the levels of sodium in your blood to dangerously low levels.
Water intoxication happens when you lose too many of your body’s precious salts. Salt gets a pretty bad rap these days, but it is quite essential to human life. When you drink too much water, you accidentally flush these out of your body as your kidneys race to catch up. This can result in a dangerous imbalance. In turn, this can cause serious health complications.
Symptoms of Overhydration
Now that we understand the basics of overhydration, let’s talk about symptoms and treatment.
Some of the most common symptoms include confusion, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, overhydration can lead to seizures, a coma, and even death. To be fair, death via overhydration is rare, but it is a genuine danger.
Beyond these symptoms, here are some basic ways to see if you are consuming too much water:
- You are taking too many trips to the bathroom. Excessive urination can be a signal to consume less liquid.
- Clear urine is a sign that the water is simply passing through you.
- Headaches, fatigue, nausea or vomiting.
- Cramped muscles can be a sign of low electrolyte levels.
- If your hands, feet and lips are discolored, this is often a telltale sign of overhydration.
While only one of these symptoms is not necessarily connected to your water consumption, having multiple symptoms can be a concern. To learn more, visit the Mayo Clinic for further information.
Should I Stick to 8 Glasses of Water a Day?
If you are worried about overhydration, sticking to eight glasses of water a day is probably a safe bet. It can be a bit of an overkill for some people, but on the whole, it shouldn’t do any harm. Some people might even need more water, and that’s okay. It pays to listen to your body.
As for the eight-a-day, for most of us, drinking when you are thirsty should be enough to keep properly hydrated. That said, keeping to a healthy goal like 8 cups can help others stay on track. If something is simple and it works, why change it? Just remember not to drink the pool or ocean water!