Water Intoxication – Are you drinking too much water?

Recently, many health experts and physicians have been buzzing around the health benefits of drinking lots of water and its miraculous effects on people’s lives.

When it comes to drinking water and liquids, the majority of doctors and health experts will most probably recommend you to “drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day”, or “drink half your bodyweight (in pounds) in fluid ounces.”

These recommendations usually do not work as well as they say, and can even lead to health problems due to the fact that they have been prescribed without considering the fact that each individual needs a different amount of daily water intake based on their gender, body type, lifestyle, health level, physical activities, and etc.

In this article we will probe deep into this issue and will help you to avoid the potential dangers of overhydration.

Dangers of drinking too much water

There is no doubt that dehydration is significantly dangerous for your health and life. In severe cases it can even lead to death. That’s why we’ve always been advised to drink as much water as we can. But it should be noted that overhydration is as dangerous as dehydration and may lead to death too.

In 2007, Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old woman participated in a water drinking contest, which was hold by a radio station, and drank nearly two gallons of water in over three hours hoping to win a Nintendo Wii gaming console. A few hours later, she was died in her bathroom due to “water intoxication”, a potentially severe form of overhydration.

Read more about this amazing tragic story from abcNEWS…

What happens if you drink too much water?

When you start to drink lots of water, for improving your health levels or any other reason, surprisingly you’ll start to notice that the more water you consume, the thirstier you’ll get. Your dry mouth will make you to drink more water, and consequently you’ll need to pee more often, and this crazy cycle will continue over and over again.

Overhydration's Vicious Circle Chart

In fact this excessive thirst is caused by consuming too much water which flushes away the much needed electrolytes and consequently dehydrates your body further.

Electrolytes are ionic solutions in your body that are formed in the body when salt get dissolved in water or fluids. These ionic solutions have an electric charge and work as batteries of your cells.

These electrolytes are much needed for your body and one of their most important roles, among other critical roles they play in body’s metabolism system, is to control the distribution of water in your body.

When you drink lots of water these electrolytes get flooded and so they cannot produce energy anymore, and this will lead to your body’s inability to keep water within itself and maintain balance, so it creates the urge to urinate more often and lose more and more water. In fact by drinking lots of water you’re actually dehydrating your body in the cellular level!

If you have water intoxication symptoms like headache, very clear urine, personality changes, changes in behavior, anxiety, chronic fatigue, confusion, irritability, and drowsiness the quickest way to avoid them is eating a salty food or a high-carb meal immediately and limiting the use of fluids for a few of hours or a couple of days until the color of your urine return to normal. Drinking some electrolyte filled drinks or a little amount of salt and sugar can also speed up the healing process.

How much is too much water?

Certainly, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need to daily for maximum health or how much is too much water. That’s due to the fact that the amount of liquids that you may need to take daily greatly depends on a plethora of factors. Some of the most important of them are:

  • Gender: the body of men usually consumes more liquids than women if they are doing the same kinds of activities and living in the same environment.
  • Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Women need to consume more water during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods.
  • Height & Weight: the body of taller and bigger people with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) tends to consume more water than their smaller fellows.
  • Age: people with different ages need different water needs.
  • Sweat: If you’re the kind of person who typically sweats more while exercising or doing other activities you definitely need to consume more water.
  • Activity: The type, duration, and intensity of your activities dictates how much you sweat, how soon you dehydrate, and how much water you need to take, if you do intense exercises your water needs increase substantially.
  • Environment: if you are living in a place with high humidity conditions in hot tropical environment your required amount of water intake substantially increase. During the summer when the temperature is high, your body tends to lose more water and consequently you will need to consume more water and liquids.
  • Illness or health conditions: different health condition may require spending more water or limiting your fluid intake. For example if you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea you need to consume more water to compensate for the fluids that your body has lost. On the contrary, in such conditions such as heart failure and some liver and adrenal diseases your doctor may ask you to limit your liquid intake.

As you may have noticed the required water intake differs considerably from one person to another, and it’s a really stupid attempt to tell how much water each person should drink per day.

Dehydration and overhydration both could do serious harm to your body and may even lead to serious health problems and death. So, to be on the safe side, you should make sure that your body is always well-hydrated, but not overhydrated.

Here are some tips that you may take into consideration in order to avoid the pitfalls of dehydration and overhydration:

  • The most important and easiest way to get well hydrated and get a balanced body fluid is just to listen to your body’s natural signals. Connect with your body and listen to its desires and cravings. It’s not so complicated! That’s so simple! Drink water when you feel thirsty, and avoid it when your body is telling you that it can’t actually handle that additional glass of water, and also try to satisfy your body’s salt and sweet cravings.
  • Always focus on the concentration of your urine. If it’s too clear, it shows that you need to limit your fluid intakes. On the other hand, if it looks so dark, it shows that your body is not well hydrated and you need to drink more liquids. Lemonade-like urine means that your body is well-hydrated and you’re on the safe side.
  • Try to use lots of fruits and vegetables during the day. This way you make sure that your body is receiving enough liquids without having to be worried about the adverse effects of overhydration.
  • Drink a few glasses of water or non-alcoholic beverage after each intensive workout or activity, especially in environments with high humidity conditions.
  • Detox waters are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can help your body to detox and revive. You can replace the plain water with detox waters to detoxify and nourish your body while drinking water.

Unfortunately most of the detox programs require you to drink lots of water and liquids in order to accelerate the cleansing process without considering the fact that this practice may flush away the much needed electrolytes which in turn will lead to more dehydration.

So I highly recommend you to seek for a safe middle ground and drink just as much water your body needs and can handle.

Are you addicted to water too? Have you ever suffered from any symptoms of overhydration? Do you think you’re spending enough water and liquids each day? Use the form at the bottom of the page to leave comments. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, I’ll be more than happy to help.