Can you drink too much water?
‘If you aren’t sure about how much is “too much” listen to your body – it will tell you if you need to hydrate.
‘It’s also good to keep an eye on the colour of your pee as this can be an indication of over-hydration. Your pee should be a pale yellow colour—if it’s darker than that, drink some water, and if it’s lighter, hold off until you feel thirsty again.
‘Though it’s not as common as dehydration, it is possible to drink too much fluid. Over-hydration can happen when you take in more water than your body can process and get rid of, and it can lead to serious problems.’
Your kidney is able to eliminate around 28 litres of water a day (which is likely more than you’re drinking), but this amount has to be drunk over the course of a full day. Your body isn’t able to get rid of more than a litre of water per hour.
This suggests that as a general rule, drinking a litre of water an hour is ‘too much’. It’s far better to spread your water intake throughout the day than chugging down a massive bottle in one go.
What happens if you drink too much water?
Imogen explains: ‘Watering down your blood can make it harder to carry nutrients, send brain signals and control the muscles in your body.’
‘If you consume too much in too short period, over hydration can become a serious issue and you could be at risk of hyponatremia.
‘This is when the sodium in your body becomes weaker and less effective, when this happens, it increases your body’s water levels, as a result your cells to begin to swell.
‘Although very rare, hyponatremia can cause muscle weakness, cramps, and seizures.’
The effects of hyponatremia can be lethal.
Excess water can cause brain cells to swell, increasing the pressure inside the skull. At first this can cause headaches and nausea, then confusion, difficulty breathing, and muscle weakness.
In severe cases, excess fluid can affect the central nervous system, leading to seizures, brain damage, coma, and even death.
As we mentioned, though, hyponatremia is rare, and it would be difficult to overhydrate without realising.
Listen to your body. When you’re thirsty, drink water, when you’re not, stop, and make sure to keep a bottle with you if you’re planning to sweat. Easy.
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