Is Drinking Too Much Water Bad For You?

July 6, 2022
Fitness & Lifestyle

We've always been told to hydrate ourselves, and drink plenty of water. While it may seem like good advice, drinking too much water can lead to a myriad of problems, including brain damage, and dilute the blood stream, leading to water poisoning.

What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

Excessive water intake will increase the level of water in the bloodstream, and dilute your blood sodium concentration. When this happens, your body cannot function properly as the electrolytes meant to deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout your organs can no longer balance the level of fluids in your cells.

Compulsive water drinking may damage brain cells, and cause a disruption in your brain functions. As excess water enters the bloodstream, cells begin to swell and burst, causing mild symptoms such as a headache, to life threatening symptoms such as shortness of breath. In severe cases, fatal water intoxication causes brain impairment and even death.

Drinking too much water can lead to a degradation of your mental state, which may cause nausea, headaches, mental confusion, unconsciousness, and even neurological symptoms. In severe cases, people with excessive water intake may fall into a coma, a vegetative state, or die from water poisoning.

What is Water Intoxication?

Water intoxication is the disruption of electrolyte balance due to excessive water consumption. Water intoxication causes imbalances in your body that may be fatal when left untreated, and symptoms of water intoxication tend to appear within hours of excessive water drinking.

Water toxicity can happen after drinking 3-4L in a matter of a couple of hours. Accidental water intoxication is often seen in water drinking contests, which encourages contestants to drink as much water as they can consume in a limited time. Contestants would later develop severe symptoms as their sodium levels drop, and may result in acute water intoxication.

Forced water intoxication is another serious and overlooked problem, is even recognized as child abuse. Because people are convinced drinking more water is good for the body, many are forced to consume excessive amounts of water in a limited time without knowing the harm it can do to their serum sodium concentration, leading to death by water intoxication.

What are the Symptoms of Water Intoxication?

How do you know if you drank too much water? The first thing you may feel is dizziness or nausea, followed by vomiting as your body tries to expel excess water from your system. You may have headaches, muscle pain, or fatigue. You may also pass out. Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Changes in mental state
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Clear urine
  • Delusions and hallucinations

How Much Water is Too Much Water?

While too much water can be toxic, it is still important to drink plenty of water throughout the day to hydrate your body, and maintain a good balance of electrolytes in your body. But just how much water should you drink, and how much water is too much?

Dietary reference intakes recommend drinking an average of 3.7L of water per day for men, and 2.7L of water per day for women. This equates to around 11.5 to 15.5 cups of water daily. However, your body already has a natural hydration monitoring system: your thirst!

Drink water whenever you feel thirsty. This is your body's way of informing you you need to hydrate, and understanding the daily needs of your body will help prevent dehydration, and avoid self-induced water intoxication as well. Any amount that goes above 10 liters of water can lead to water intoxication.

How to Reverse Water Intoxication

There are a few ways to remedy water intoxication if you think you've consumed too much water in a short period. First, it is important to cut back on your fluid intake for any type of fluids, including juices, sodas, and water.

Consume diuretics to flush out the water from your system. You will need to give your kidneys time to completely flush out the excess water from your system, and prevent your cells from swelling up. It is important to treat water poisoning immediately, as water intoxication can be fatal in as little as 10 hours.

For more severe hyponatremia, which is when the blood sodium concentration is too low for your body to function, healthcare professionals will replace the diluted sodium levels in your body just until your body gets back its balanced levels. Go to the hospital if you're experiencing symptoms such as severe headaches and weakness.

Moderate Your Water Intake

Drinking water is good. Drinking too much water is harmful to your body. Just as with any other consumable, the key to keeping your body healthy is balance. Drink water in moderation, and know the signs of dehydration and overhydration.

Always choose to drink pure and clean water for your optimal health. Our bottled water in My Own Water is sure to be pure and clean, ready for you to drink anytime you're looking to quench your thirst!

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