What happens to your body when you drink too much water?
Experts put a lot of emphasis on how much water you need to drink on a daily basis to maintain great health. But what happens if you over do it? When it comes to drinking water, reaping the rewards is about drinking the right amount for your age, body type, body size and circumstances. There are many factors that influence individual water intake, and although striking the right balance is great, knowing the signs that say you’ve drunk too much water is equally important.
How much water is too much?
Experiencing the troubling effects of dehydration is a sure-fire way of knowing when you’ve drunk too little water, but how much is too much?
Your kidneys – the organ charged with extracting fluids, including water and waste products, from the body – can only eliminate so much every day. On average, two kidneys can filter and process 200 litres of fluid every 24 hours, and will rid the body of a proportion of this fluid throughout the day. Drinking more fluid than your kidneys can eliminate is therefore not recommended and can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms.
What happens when I drink too much?
Hyponatremia or water intoxication may be rare but it is extremely serious. The condition, caused by the drinking of too much water, can even be fatal. To suffer from this form of intoxication however you would have to drink gallons and gallons of water, a fact that means far more people are impacted by dehydration than water intoxication. Whilst you may never get to the stage of water intoxication, overhydration, which occurs when you drink too much water too fast, comes with its problems. The symptoms of overhydration include headaches, nausea, vomiting and confusion. In more serious cases, severe muscle cramps, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma and heart failure can result.
Overhydration is more common in some people than others. Endurance athletes, i.e. marathon runners, cyclists, hikers, triathletes, rowers, rugby players and training military personnel are at particularly high risk.
What about water fasting?
The TSW team blogged about what happens to the body when drinking only water for a month, but one year on the dangers of water fasting are still evident. As well as causing dehydration and the loss of the wrong type of weight too quickly, water fasting can cause a condition called orthostatic hypotension as Healthline details:
“Orthostatic hypotension is common among people who water fast. It is defined as a drop in blood pressure that happens when you suddenly stand up, and can leave you dizzy, lightheaded and at risk of fainting. If you suffer from orthostatic hypotension while fasting, then you may need to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. The dizziness and risk of fainting could lead to an accident.”
Tracking how much you’re drinking with the best apps is the perfect place to begin if you’re worried about drinking too much or too little water.
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