Beware of overhydration! It can even cause water intoxication

Water intoxication means when your body is overhydrated due to drinking of too much water then required. Here are its symptoms.
Drink water to fight off lethargy!. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Vidhi Chawla Published on: 16 August 2022, 08:59 am IST
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“Drink water”! This is one piece of advice everyone gives for healthy living. But overdoing it can sometimes be not so good for your body. While every cell in the body needs water, have you heard about the term water intoxication? Well, too much water can actually be harmful to the body. There are a few other terms for water intoxication, like water poisoning, hyper-hydration, and water toxemia. And to put it simply, it is a condition that is also known as over-hydration.

Here are the causes of water intoxication:

When you drink too much water than what your kidneys can flush out, it creates pressure on your kidneys. That dilutes the sodium in the bloodstream and the cells start swelling.

If we talk about the causes of water intoxication, intense physical activities such as running, sometimes lead to excess water consumption, which can be a problem.

Stay hydrated to get healthy skin. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Signs of water intoxication:

1. Yellow urine: Firstly, the colour of your urine is a major sign of water intoxication. The colour depends on the water level of your body. If the urine colour is not pale yellow and completely clear, it indicates that you have had too much water in a short time.

2. Frequent urination: If you are urinating more often than usual, it indicates that you are drinking too much water. On average, urinating 6 times a day is okay.

3. Nausea: When there is too much water in your body, you feel nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea since the kidneys fail to remove the liquid. Sometimes it may cause brain impairment too.

4. Swelling: Cells’ swelling leads to skin swelling, leading to discoloration and swelling of your hands and feet. Sometimes it also leads to muscle cramps as the electrolyte level falls due to the increased water level.

How much water should you actually drink in a day?

There are no specific guidelines for the amount of water that a person should consume in a day. But on an average, women under 30 years of age should drink approximately 2.7 liters of water daily, and men under 30 years of age can drink 3.7 liters. Pregnant women, older people, and especially athletes, can’t always rely on thirst levels.

Water is essential for healthy digestion. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It’s important to note that even though our kidneys (adults) can flush out 20 to 28 liters of water every day, per hour they can flush out only 1 liter. So it is advisable not to have more than 1 litre of water per hour.

Water intoxication symptoms may seem similar to dehydration, so one needs to be sure as to which condition they are experiencing. If it is water intoxication, one can have some salty snacks that can provide some relief. When we need more water, our body has the ability to alert us, so drinking more can lead to fatal conditions, and one needs to be careful about the same.

About the Author
Vidhi Chawla

Vidhi Chawla is a dietitian and the owner of Fisico Diet Clinic.

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