Overhydration – Effects of drinking Excess water

In this article we will study the importance of drinking water, what is overhydration, different kinds of overhydration, and the effects of drinking excess water.

Overhydration - Effect of drinking Excess water
Overhydration- Drinking water

Body’s cells require water to function well and growth. Expert believes that one should drink 3-4 ltrs of water everyday to stay hydrated, it will help your body:

  • Prevent constipation
  • In regulating temperature of body
  • Flush out toxics from body
  • In skin glowing

People working in hot temperature generally does not like drinking much water. Drinking less than required amount of water can cause serious health issues. Now the question arises what if you drink an excessive amount of water, which is called as overhydration.

There’s no single formula to conclude what proportion of water you should drink in a day. However, experts recommends that around 8 glasses each day may be a good start line . You should adjust your water intake around this number basis the weather you are living in, exercise regimen, overall health, and conditions like pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What is Overhydration?

Overhydration is a term used when you drink excess amount of water than required. When the salt and other minerals of your body becomes very low amounting to Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a condition where sodium level in your body reaches to very low level.

Different kinds of Overhydration

Generally there are 2 kinds of overhydration:

Excess water intake

Excess water intake is that condition wherein you drink more water than your kidney can excrete it in urine. For example, if you are staying in cold weather area or any other place where there are less chances of sweating. Drinking 5-6 ltrs of water would amount to overhydration in this case.

Water retained in body

This kind of overhydration is caused when your body can’t get rid of excess water. This can be caused by various medical conditions or medicines which retain more water than required in body.

Both of these conditions are not good for body as it results in fluid imbalance in the body.

Overhydration - drinking Excess water
Overhydration – Drinking Excess water

What are the cause of Overhydration

As mentioned earlier in this article, Overhydration is a condition where you intake excess amount of water or the condition where your body is not able to release the excess water. Excess water dilutes the important elements in your blood. Most of the athlete drink excess water before or after the event.

Guidelines has been issued by The Institute of Medicine recommending adequate water intake in a day. As per the guidelines, a healthy adult should drink between the range of 70-100 ounce of water in a day, on average.

It is to be remembered that there is no fixed formula to determine the adequate amount of water intake in a day. It will vary upon the geographic condition, sex, age, activity level, the type of food that you consume and medical conditions. For instance, a bodybuilder who consume different kinds of supplements like Vitamins, testosterone booster, BCAA, Caffeine, Protein powder then he might need some extra water to balance out fluids. If you wish to know that Is Whey Protein Safe to Drink? you can read the detailed article on our website Health Sneak.

How to identify if you are overhydrated or under hydrated?

The colour of urine is the best indicator to identify whether you are overhydrated or under hydrated. If the colour of your urine is dark pale then it indicates that you are under hydrated. On the other hand, if the colour of your urine is pale yellow then it indicates that you are hydrated. However, if the urine is white in colour then it indicates that you are overhydrated.

Following are some of the conditions which causes overhydration:

  • congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Uncontrolled diabetics

Following are some of the medicines which will make you extreme thirsty and you will drink more water which will cause Overhydration:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Diuretics
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Ecstasy

What Happens once you Drink an excessive amount of Water?

When you drink an excessive amount of water, you’ll experience water poisoning, intoxication, or an interruption of brain functioning. This happens when there’s an excessive amount of water within the cells (including brain cells), causing them to swell. When the cells within the brain swell they cause pressure within the brain. you’ll start experiencing things like confusion, drowsiness, and headaches. If this pressure increases it could cause conditions like hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and bradycardia (Low Heart Rate).

Sodium is that the electrolyte most suffering from overhydration, resulting in a condition called hyponatremia. Sodium may be a crucial element that helps your body in managing the balance of fluids in and out of cells. When the level of sodium drops, the excess amount of water enters the cell tissues. This results into swelling of cells, you can go into coma, or may die in extreme case.

Who is at the risk of Overhydration?

Generally endurance athletes faces the issues of overhydration who drink excess amount of water before or after the event. It is commonly reported by:

  • People who run marathons of 50 Kilometers or 25 miles
  • Cyclists
  • Players who play rugby for long hours
  • Hikers
Overhydration - Effects of drinking Excess water
Overhydration – Effects of drinking Excess water

Treatments of Overhydration

Following are few of the best treatments for overhydration:

  • Cutting back your fluid intake
  • Consulting doctor and taking treatment for the cause of overhydration
  • Replacing salt (sodium) in extreme cases

Please note that these treatments are for educational purpose only and not to be treated as a prescription. Please consult your doctor if you face any issues of Overhydration.