Water is essential for your life and well-being. But drinking too much of it (overhydration) can lead to water intoxication. And this can lead to hyponatremia, impaired brain function, and sometimes death. Since about 50% of adults are dehydrated, doctors and dietitians ask us to keep ourselves hydrated. But this is often misconstrued, and people end up drinking more water than their body actually needs. So, how much water should you drink? What are the symptoms of water intoxication and can it be reversed? Give this post a read and find out if you are drinking too much water and the dangers it can cause.
1. Causes Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is a decrease in sodium levels below 136 mmol/liter blood serum . It happens due to quick overhydration. Sodium is an important salt that helps in cell signaling and various other functions in the body. So, when your serum sodium levels drop, you start feeling nauseous, disoriented, fatigued, or get a headache. And in severe cases, it might also lead to death.
2. Causes The Cells To Swell Up
When sodium decreases in your body, by the principle of osmosis, water enters the cell through the semipermeable cell membrane. This results in swelling up of the cells. The swelling of the body cells (including the brain) causes serious damage to the muscle tissues, organs, and brain.
3. Causes Hypokalemia
Overhydration can cause hypokalemia or a decrease in potassium ions. The balance between intracellular and extracellular potassium ions is hampered when you drink too much water. In fact, a mere 1% change in potassium ion distribution can lead to a whopping 50% change in plasma potassium ion concentration. And this can result in severe diarrhea and prolonged sweating.
4. Affects The Brain
Hyponatremia or low-sodium in the blood can cause the brain to swell up. And this, in turn, results in speech disability, disorientation, walking instability, psychosis, and even death.
5. Overburdens The Heart
The heart performs the vital function of pumping blood through your entire body. When you consume too much of water, it increases the volume of blood inside your body. The increased blood volume exerts unnecessary pressure on the blood vessels and the heart, leading to seizure in some cases.
6. Overburdens The Kidneys
Consuming too much water can put pressure on your kidneys to function constantly. Your kidneys can filter about a liter of fluid per hour from the body. Beyond that, they have to work extra hard to maintain homeostasis.
7. Causes Liver Problems
It is important to note that this problem is not caused by merely drinking too much water. Rather, it happens by drinking too much of water with iron in it. Iron overload is not exactly detrimental, but in rare cases, it may cause liver-related problems as well.
8. Frequent Urination
Frequent urination, say once in every 15 minutes, can be really frustrating, whether you are at home, work, or school. When you drink too much water, your kidneys function constantly, and as a result, you have to rush to the washroom again and again.
9. Poses The Risk Of Chlorine Overdose
Drinking too much water can put you at the risk of chlorine overdose. And when that happens, you will be at the risk of developing cancer. So, stay hydrated and not overhydrated.
The brain and visceral organ damage that your body goes through ultimately lead to coma and death. Therefore, you must drink water carefully. Do not drink too much water within a short window of time.
Now, the burning question is, how much water is good for you? Here’s what the experts recommend.