Over-hydration: How much is too much?

All the body’s cells need water to function well. Drinking adequate amounts of water helps your body:

  • regulate temperature
  • prevent constipation
  • flush out waste products
  • perform all major bodily functions

The problem arises when you drink too much water, which is called over-hydration. Over-hydration can lead to water intoxication. This occurs when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in your body become too diluted.

Consequences of Over-hydration

  • Disruption of brain function: This happens when there’s too much water in the cells (including brain cells), causing them to swell causing pressure in the brain. Leading to confusion, drowsiness, and headaches. If this pressure increases it could cause conditions like hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and bradycardia (Low Heart Rate)
  • Hyponatremia: When the sodium levels drop due to a high amount of water in the body, fluids get inside the cells causing them to swell, increasing the risk of having seizures, going into a coma.

Signs of Over-hydration

  • Urine colour: One of the best ways to determine if you’re drinking enough water is to monitor the color of your urine. If it is often clear, that’s a sure sign you’re drinking too much water in a short span.
  • Frequent Urination: Another sign is if you’re relieving yourself more than usual. Going up to 10 times is normal for water-drinking high achievers or people who regularly drink caffeine or alcohol.
  • Drinking water even when you’re not thirsty: A third way to avoid drinking too much water is to be aware of when your body needs it. Thirst is the body’s response to dehydration and should be your guiding cue.
  • Nausea or vomiting: When you have too much water in the body, the kidneys can’t remove the excess liquid. It starts collecting in the body, leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Throbbing headaches all through the day: Excess water in the body causes the body’s salt levels to go down and the cells to swell and press against the skull causing a throbbing headache.
  • Discoloration of the hands, feet, and lips as the cells swell, the skin will also swell.
  • Muscle Cramps: Low electrolyte levels in the body can cause muscle spasms and cramping.
  • Tiredness or fatigue: Excess water causes your kidneys to work too hard to remove the excess amount. This creates a hormone reaction that makes you feel stressed and tired.

A large portion of the body is made of water, which is vital for cell function and life. When you drink too much, it can lead to fatal conditions. Let thirst guide you.


Sources: https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-is-too-much-water-intake?icd=mm-hlh#2

https://www.healthline.com/health/overhydration

Author: Pallabi Sinha

I am a Nutritionist with 6 years of expertise in the field. I have a knack of convincing people to switch to a healthier lifestyle.