Water makes up about 60% of the weight in the human body. And as it is the major portion of our body, we are always told to drink more amount of it.
Our elders think that drinking water solves 90% of our health problems!
Have acne? Drink water! Want to calm yourself? Drink water! Having stomach problems? Drink more water!
But as the saying goes “ too much of a good thing is bad”, drinking too much water leads to a condition known as “water intoxication”.
What’s water intoxication?
It is a condition when a large amount of water is consumed by the individual in less time, which cannot be excreted by the kidneys in such a short span and hence is retained.
How does it affect you?
As the water remains retained, it dilutes the important substances in the blood which leads to the lowering of blood sodium levels. When this takes place in cells, the fluid-electrolyte balance gets Disturbed and they swell up.
Who is at risk?
Mostly the athletes, hikers, and marathon runners are at great risk of overhydration, but it is also common in patients of congestive cardiac failure, schizophrenia, lung and liver diseases.
What are the symptoms?
Initially, the person experiences headaches nausea and vomiting.
But as the condition becomes severe the symptoms include cerebral oedema, drowsiness, increased blood pressure, weakness and difficulty in breathing.
How deadly is it?
Deaths are not common but can occur during severe water intoxication. As the symptoms are often confused with dehydration, there have been cases when people died due to excessive hydration.
Most of the athletes, when tested, showed mild symptoms of water intoxication.
How much water is too much?
The amount of water that cannot be excreted is retained and cause intoxication. Our kidneys are capable of eliminating 20-28 litre water per day but cannot eliminate more than 1 litre in an hour. So, more than the amount what matters is the interval at which it is consumed. Drinking too much water in a short period is not advisable as our kidneys cannot eliminate it.
How to diagnose water intoxication?
You can observe the colour of your urine, pale yellow colour denotes that you are adequately hydrated. If it’s colourless you are over hydrated and if it is a darker shade of yellow, you are dehydrated.
You can also diagnose it with a blood test.
What’s the treatment?
You can reduce the amount of water you consume and drink liquids which consist of electrolytes. If the condition is caused due to any drug then the stoppage of that drug is advised. Any treatment should be started only after consulting by a professional and after full diagnosis of the disease.
Should you drink water during a workout?
Of course, you can drink water but if you think you are consuming it in a large amount in a short period, try drinks containing electrolytes or sugar as an alternative.
As you are now aware of the dangers that can even cause death, drink water smartly.
Stay hydrated but not overhydrated!