Effects of drinking too much water

What are effects of drinking water? In this post: Benefits of drinking water, I discussed why water is important to your body. Well, water is indeed very important for our bodies but drinking too much of it is at same risky to our health. The old saying ‘too much of something is not good’ is applicable here.  Excessive water intake can be a total mess to the body.Drinking too much water  causes leads to a condition known as hyponatraemia (water intoxication). Severe hyponatraemia can lead to coma and can be fatal. However, cases of hyponatraemia are normally rare in the general population.

So, what is water intoxication and how does it happen?

Water intoxication occurs when an individual drinks so much water that the other nutrients in the body become diluted to the point that they can no longer carry out their functions as required. To be more specific, it is a condition that occurs when the level of  sodium (salt and of course a nutrient ) in your blood is abnormally low.You might have heard of electrolytes… Electrolytes are simply salt ions  that cells use to move fluids and nerve messages into and out of cells and throughout the body. Without electrolytes, the body can’t function. Sodium is an electrolyte and it helps regulate the amount of water that’s in and around your cells.  When you drink a lot of water or simply fluids, it causes the sodium in your body to become diluted. When this happens, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to severe.

Other than drinking large amounts of water more especially within a short span, there are other causes of water intoxication which include;

  1. Chronic, severe vomiting or diarrhea which makes your body to lose fluids and electrolytes.
  2. Certain medications such as some antidepressants and pain medications, which make you to urinate or perspire more than normal.
  3.  A low-sodium diet, high-water diet can sometimes disturb the proper balance between sodium and fluids in your blood.
  4. Water pills (diuretics) — especially thiazide diuretics. Diuretics work by making your body get rid of more sodium in urine.
  5. Liver diseases like Cirrhosis which can cause fluids to accumulate in your body.
  6. Kidney failure and other kidney problems may make it hard to efficiently remove extra fluids from your body.
  7. Participating in water or juice drinking competitions can make you take a lot water within short span thus creating an imbalance in the sodium levels.
  8. Dehydration. In dehydration, your body loses fluids and electrolytes.
  9. Exertional hyponatremia (drinking too much water during exercise). Because you lose sodium through sweat, drinking too much water during endurance activities, such as marathons and triathlons, can dilute the sodium content of your blood

What are the symptoms of water intoxication?

  • Headache
  • Loss of energy
  • Facial swelling or puffiness in babies
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Any tip on how  avoid drinking too much water ?

First, the amount you need depends on your size and weight, and also on your activity level and where you live. According to a post on webmd.com, on a daily basis, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water per any given day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you are likely to be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less.


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