Water is always a good idea, but there are also situations in which too much fluid intake can lead to bad consequences on the body. Overhydration can lead to water intoxication, which occurs when sodium levels in the body drop too much. There are two main situations when a person can become overhydrated: drinking too much water in a very short time or water retention. Excessive water intake makes it impossible for the kidneys to eliminate it by urine, which will dilute the blood. On the other hand, water retention occurs when the body is unable to eliminate water properly. Both are dangerous, because they create an imbalance in the body.
Overhydration is quite rare in everyday life, being more common among high-performance athletes who drink large amounts of water during or after sustained effort. Examples include:
– People who run marathons and ultramarathons
– Endurance cyclists
– Rugby players
– The military
Athletes can reduce the risk of overhydration by weighing themselves before and after exercise. This helps determine the amount of water that needs to be replaced. In everyday life, there are other signs that can determine if the amount of water you consume is too high for your body’s needs.
One of the best ways to determine if you are drinking enough water is to monitor your urine color. If it’s dark yellow, it’s a bad sign that you’re dehydrated. Ideally, the color should be light yellow, which shows an optimal hydration level. But if the urine is clear, this could mean you are overhydrated and you need to recalculate your daily water intake.
Increased water intake may cause frequent urination, including at night. This leads to interruption of sleep, so sleep is less restful, and headaches, fatigue, and irritability may occur. Most people urinate 6 to 8 times a day, but if you urinate more than ten times a day, it could mean that you drink more water than your body needs.
Water helps to maintain the body’s electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are also responsible for ensuring a high energy level. When you drink too much water, this balance fluctuates. Signs that may indicate an electrolyte imbalance include swelling of the hands, feet, or lips.
When electrolyte levels drop due to excessive water consumption, the whole body is affected. If you notice tremor and pain in your arms and legs, unrelated to physical exhaustion, it could be a sign of overhydration. Low levels of electrolytes in the body can also cause muscle spasms and cramps.
Other symptoms of early overhydration include nausea and vomiting, headache, changes in mood, such as confusion or disorientation. Untreated, it can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium in the blood and to signs such as seizures, unconsciousness and even coma.
Do not treat the recommendations as strict rules! The water need varies depending on your age, sex, weather, activity level and general state of health. There is no exact formula for how much water you need to drink. Special situations, such as extreme heat, significant physical activity and fever, will require a higher intake of fluids than we consume daily, but usually an approximate calculation can be done by multiplying the number of kilograms by 33ml.
Your body needs water and hydration is essential for health, but remember there are limits. However, if you are constantly feeling thirsty, consult a specialist. There may be a more serious condition behind this need. Moderating water intake and monitoring the urine color are two useful ways to avoid unwanted side effects of overhydration. Use a reusable bottle and measure the amount of water consumed more easily to avoid unwanted situations. Find your daily inspiration on our Instagram page!