Can Drinking Too Much Water Lead to Overhydration?
Drinking water is the key to everything, right? Headache = drink more water. Dry skin = drink more water. But what if I told you there was such thing as drinking too much water...
- Overhydration occurs when the body cannot excrete enough water
- Medical diagnosis is required
- Some symptoms include confusion, fatigue, headache, muscle spasm, and more
Seriously, can drinking too much water lead to overhydration? What does that mean and should you be worried? Probably not, but hang on tight, we’re about to explain everything you need to know about your hydration habits.
What is Overhydration?
Overhydration (also known as water intoxication) occurs when the body cannot excrete enough water. In other words, the body takes in more water or retains more water than it loses day-to-day.
Intaking too much or retaining too much water without excreting it can cause electrolyte imbalances, the most common being too little sodium in the bloodstream. Having too little sodium in the bloodstream is a condition called hyponatremia and can be dangerous if not attended to.
Intaking too much water is easier to understand, but understanding why the body retains water is a bit more difficult. The body retains excess water when the pituitary gland tricks the body into secreting an antiduretic hormone (urine reducing hormone) causing the kidneys to conserve fluid that is not needed. This syndrome is called syndrome of inappropriate antiduretic hormone secretion (SIADH) and is relatively common in the United States.
Despite SIADH being relatively common in the United States, overhydration is rare in the United States, with less than 200,00 cases a year. People at higher risk of overhydration are athletes competing in strenuous activities or individuals with underlying disorders in their kidneys, heart, liver, or pituitary gland. Additionally, certain medications can put you at higher risk such as anti-inflammatorys, diuretics, and antipsychotics.
Symptoms of Overhydration
Convinced you may be part of the 0.0006% of Americans that experience overhydration each year? Here are some tell tale signs that you may be drinking too much water or your body may be retaining excess water.
- Trouble balancing
- Muscle Spasms
- Restlessness and lack of sleep
In severe cases…
Diagnosis and Treatment of Overhydration
If you suspect you may be overhydrated, seek medical attention. Overhydration requires a medical diagnosis and it is treatable. Blood and urine tests are standard in order to evaluate electrolytes during the diagnosis process.
- Restricting water intake
- Taking diuretics (urine producing hormones)
- Treating conditions that are causing the problem
- Stopping medications that are causing the problem
- Replacing sodium
How Much Water Should You Drink?
According to the research done by The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, women should intake 11.5 cups (92 ounces) of water a day and men should intake 15.5 cups (124 ounces) of water a day.
It is good practice to ensure you are taking in enough sodium while drinking large amounts of water. Some high sodium foods are…
- Smoked, cured, and canned meat or poultry
- Salted Nuts
- Cottage Cheese
- Canned soups and broths
- Ketchup and Mustard
Overhydration is not as common as one may think, and it is unlikely to happen even if you drink a little extra water for a few days. If you are experiencing dry skin, headaches, or participating in strenuous activities, increasing water intake may be beneficial. Just remember to increase sodium intake as well.
Experiencing any symptoms? Remember, if you believe you may be overhydrated, seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Written by Lauren Conklin