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Can Drinking Too Much Water Be Harmful? Find out the Truth!

Apr 26, 2017

Drinking the right amount of water on a daily basis helps regulate your body temperature, flush out toxins, promote digestion, prevent constipation and keep you healthy. However, consuming too much of water, too fast can lead to over hydration. If not treated properly, over hydration can seriously affect your health.

The symptoms

The common symptoms are a headache, nausea, and vomiting. You’ll also notice a change in mental state such as disorientation or confusion. Not receiving medical attention can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium in your blood. Moreover, it can cause more severe symptoms like muscle weakness, cramps, spasms, seizures, unconsciousness and coma as well.

The causes

Drinking too much water is a leading cause of overhydration. You may consume too much water during or after exercise. Certain medications will cause your mouth to dry, and you’ll feel very thirsty. Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to excessive thirst. Schizophrenia, a psychiatric condition, may lead an individual to compulsive water drinking.

Water retention is one of the causes for overhydration. It’s often the result of medical conditions like kidney problems, liver disease, syndrome of the inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone, and congestive heart failure.

What are the two types of overhydration?

Increased water intake

The kidneys find it difficult to expel the excessive amount of water in urine from your body.

Retaining water

Your body is said to be retaining water when it’s unable to get rid of the excessive water. It’s also considered dangerous because it may affect the salt and water levels in your blood, leading to a condition known as hyponatremia.

How do we diagnose overhydration?

The doctor will study your medical history and determine whether the symptoms are caused by overhydration or another medical condition. You may undergo a physical examination, and asked to complete urine and blood tests too.

What are the treatments for overhydration?

Depending on the severity of the existing symptoms, your doctor will advise you appropriately about the treatment. It may include the following:

– Medications to help reduce symptoms like headaches, seizures, nausea,

– Diuretic drug(s) to increase the passage of urine from your system

– Tone down on your fluid and salt intake

How can you prevent overhydration?

Avoid drinking more than a litre of water per hour. If you suffer from an underlying medical condition like congestive heart failure, diabetes, or kidney problems, you should consult your doctor about the best treatments.

Drinking more water before and during an intense workout session can also help you. After your session, you’ll avoid the need to consume more water. When you sweat, your body loses essential electrolytes like sodium and potassium. In this scenario, sports beverages are also helpful. In most of the cases, you’ll notice endurance athletes weigh themselves before and after a race to reduce the risk of overhydration. It helps them determine the amount of water lost and needed for replenishment.

Stay well-hydrated

To ward off dehydration, you need to make sure your fluid intake is at regular intervals of time. Your water intake is probably adequate when you rarely feel thirsty, and you notice that your urine is light yellow or colourless. It's a good idea to consume a glass of water or any low-calorie beverage with each meal and between each meal. Ensure that you drink water before, during and after your exercise.

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