You may be drinking lots of water to keep your body hydrated, especially in hot days like this.
However, do you know drinking too much water may lead to water intoxication, which is very serious, and can be fatal?
Keep hydrated is only a good thing when done properly.
What is overhydration?
Water is what your body depends on to survive. A certain amount of water helps your body to:
- Maintain its temperature
- Remove waste
- Lubricate your joints
- Perform all major bodily functions
- Prevent constipation
However, if you drink too much water in a short time, the level of sodium in your blood will drop too low, leading to hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is the main concern of overhydration.
Different types of overhydration
There are two main types of overhydration:
Increased water intake. Drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time can make it difficult for your kidneys to remove extra water to your urine, which causes too much water in your bloodstream.
Retaining water. This is caused by several medical conditions, making your body unable to get rid of water properly.
Overhydration can break the balance between water and level of sodium in your blood and may lead to dangerous results.
Why does overhydration happen?
Overhydration happens when your body takes more water than the kidneys can remove.
It usually occurs when you drink too much water in a short time. Marathon and triathlons athletes, and other endurance sportsmen may be overhydrated during an event.
People are constantly reminded to drink enough water to keep hydrated, but the proper amount of water for everyone is different. Water needs vary with age, sex, weather, activity level, and overall health.
There is no exact formula on how much to drink, so it’s important to know when you need water and when you don’t.
What are the symptoms of overhydration?
Common symptoms include:
Nausea and vomiting. Overhydration looks a lot like dehydration. Nausea and vomiting occur due to too much water intake, which leads to water collecting in the body.
Headache. You may feel throbbing headaches throughout the day. This is because too much water causes your salt concentration low and your cells grow. The brain cells grow in size and press against the skull, leading to throbbing headaches.
Changes in mental state such as confusion or disorientation.
If the condition remains untreated, more serious symptoms might happen include:
- Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
How can I know if I’m drinking too much water?
There are some indicators for you to judge.
Take a look at your urine
Yellow urine that looks like lemonade is a good goal. Darker urine means you need more water, while colorless urine means you are overhydrated.
Remember: don’t drink water until your urine is clear.
Think if you urinate too much
If you urinate frequently, including during the night, you may have drunk too much water. Most people urinate six to eight times per day.
Do you drink water all day, even if you are not thirsty?
If you take a bottle of water with you, frequently drink from the bottle and immediately refill it when it depletes, you may be drinking too much water.
How is overhydration treated?
The treatments aim at reducing the water in your body and re-reach the balance of water and sodium. Treatments include:
- Cutting back on your fluid intake
- Taking diuretics to increase the amount of urine you produce
- Treating the condition that caused the overhydration
- Stopping any medications causing the problem
- Replacing sodium in severe cases
How to prevent overhydration?
Control your water intake is the most common way to prevent overhydration. You should take 2 to 4 cups, and no more water per hour if you are doing sports.
If you exercise more than an hour, try sports beverages instead of water. The sports beverages contain sugar and salt, which can maintain the salt level in your body.
You can purchase sports beverages from almost all shops and gyms.
You can also add one teaspoon salt and two teaspoons sugar in about four cups of water to make your own sports beverage.