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When You Drink Too Much Water

What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

When You Drink Too Much Water, your body suffers. This happens when the amount of salts and other electrolytes in your body become too diluted. Other names for this ailment are Water Intoxication and Overhydration.

Hyponatremia is more extreme than overhydration/water intoxication. This happens when the sodium/salt levels become dangerously low. If electrolyte levels drop too quickly, it can cost someone their life. This condition doesn’t happen very often, yet is definitely something to know about.

There Are Two Symptoms When You Drink Too Much Water

These two types of overhydration are dangerous, since they upset the balance between water and sodium in your blood.

  1. Increased water intake – this happens when you drink more water than the kidneys can remove in your urine. The result is too much water in your bloodstream.
  2. Retained water – this happens when your body can’t get rid of water adequately. There are a number of medical conditions which might contribute to water retention.

How Does Overhydration Happen?

You can become overhydrated when there is an imbalance of fluids, because the kidneys cannot release all the fluids in the body.

If you drink too much water or don’t have a way to remove it, the water levels build up. Next, the important chemical balance in your blood gets diluted. Water needs vary from one person to another. Age, weather, sex, health, and activity level can impact the amount of water you need.

Medical experts recommend the following water intake guidelines for healthy adults:

drink 75-100 ounces of water daily, which is about (9-13 cups) on average

OR drink half of your weight into ounces (100 pounds would be 50 ounces)

Extreme situations, such as illness, fever, hot weather, or significant activity could require more fluid intake than usual.

When you drink too much water, it can be just as dangerous as when you don’t drink enough of it.

How Can You Know If You Are Overhydrated? The easiest way to measure this is by using the Pee Test

Are There Physical Ailments That Effect Hydration This Way?

Yes, there are some conditions and medicines that tend to cause the body to hold on to more fluid:

  • liver disease
  • congestive heart failure
  • kidney problems
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • uncontrolled diabetes

There are some other ailments and medications which can make you extremely thirsty, bringing on overhydration:

  • schizophrenia
  • diurectics
  • antipsychotic drugs
  • MDMA (known as ecstasy)

Who Is In The Risk Factor for Overhydration?

This problem commonly happens with endurance athletes. They often drink large amounts of water before and during their exercise. Some of those athletes can be:

  • Ironman triathletes
  • Rugby players
  • Marathon runners
  • Hikers
  • Elite rowers
  • Endurance cyclists

Symptoms to Watch For:

When you drink too much water, it may be hard to recognize immediately. As the ailment progresses the following symptoms show up:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • mental confusion or disorientation

More severe symptoms will appear, as lower sodium levels become more dangerous:

  • muscle weakness, spasms, cramps
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness
  • coma

The Best Treatments When You Drink Too Much Water

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, treatment may include:

  • reducing fluid intake
  • taking diuretics to increase urine output
  • treating the ailment that causes overhydration
  • stopping medications that caused the problem
  • in extreme cases-replace the sodium levels

What Are The Best Ways To Prevent This From Happening?

For Endurance Athletes-take time to weigh yourself before/after the sports event. This helps you know how much water you have lost and need to replenish. On average, drink 16-20 ounces for every pound lost.Try to drink 2 – 4 cups of fluid per hour. Let thirst be your guide while exercising. If you are thirsty, drink more.

If You Have A Medical Condition – people with diabetes or kidney disease should consult their doctor for best approaches. Contact your doctor if you are unusually thirsty, because this could indicate other issues.

Regardless of the reason, when you drink too much water, your body “balance” is tilting to one side, and it isn’t a healthy status.

When You Drink Too Much Water … Learn To Listen To Your Body

Do you pay attention to signals from your body? Our first signals the body sends out are when we are  cold, hot, thirsty, sleepy, or need a diaper change. Those signals are foundational ones, that help us survive.

As we mature, the body sends out additional signals While we are busy living out adult life, we might listen to the signals. On the other hand, we may not listen to our body. If we listen, we will know what other adjustments we need to make to assist our health and emotions.

“Your body is your best guide. It constantly tells you, in the form of pain or sensations, what’s working for you and what’s not.”

― Hina Hashmi

Sleep schedules are an example of hearing what your body needs. Your body needs a specific number of hours of sleep each night. There is a prime time that your body wants to go to sleep. Are you hearing those messages?

Or maybe your work schedule conflicts with the schedule your body is signaling. I know that can be a difficult issue to reconcile. What can you do to listen to your body while keeping the right schedule for work? If you truly can’t change your bedtime and wake-up time, then at least make sure you are getting the amount of sleep your body is craving.

Another way to listen to your body comes in terms of eating: when you eat, how much you eat, and what you eat. Listen to what your body says about these things. Often your body may signal foods you are allergic to, specific diets that suit you, and how much or when to drink water.

How Can You Listen To Your Body?

Some body messages are loud and clear: “I want sleep!”

Other times the messages are more subtle. Perhaps you sense the message, but can’t discern it. This is when a small moment of mindfulness can help you get more clear on it:

  • Take a walk
  • Try Deep Breathing for a few minutes
  • Do a few yoga stretches
  • Write in a journal
  • Draw a little some doodles
  • Walk barefoot on the grass or ground
  • Listen to relaxing music while you close your eyes
  • Take a quiet moment to ask your body to help you make the next decision (REALLY!)

Learning to listen to your body is a healthy practice for mind and body. The more you do this, the easier it is to hear your body’s messages. This can help guide you to the next steps in life.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15

At first, this verse may not sound like it applies to times when you drink too much water. However, I think this verse fits the idea perfectly! God created me and my body. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So when my body is talking, I really need to listen. Because God can talk to me through my body’s signals. I think it is pretty great!!!

Enjoy your healthy life!

Pam Schmidt

Chemical Minimalist

Mindfulness Mentor


P.S. Snag a private consultation with me to get clear on your next steps toward your Chemical Minimalist, happy, healthy life!

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