Can You Really Drink Too Much Water?

     Ask any health expert and they’ll tell you that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But has anyone ever told you that you can drink too much water? Believe it or not, you can. With temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, you’ll be urged to drink more water. However, drinking too much too quickly can lead to a condition know as Water Intoxication.

     Simply speaking, drinking too much water causes the disruption of brain function, causing intoxication. Explained, when too much water is ingested, the electrolytes in the bloodstream become diluted. A normal blood sodium concentration is 135 mmol/L, however when levels fall below this value, a condition known as hyponatremia occurs. As sodium works to maintain fluids between the inside and outside of cells, when suddenly faced with a deficiency due to irregular water concentration levels, the fluid shifts from the outside to the inside of the cells. As fluid fills the brain cells, they swell up and cause an increased pressure in the skull, a potentially life-threatening effect.

     Several factors can contribute to Water Intoxication, including kidney function, body weight, and physical activity. Too much water in too little time does not give the kidneys enough time to filter and eliminate the water in your system. Depending on your body weight, you may need to drink more or less during the day. Similar to weight, active people, especially athletes, have a tendency to drink more water than average to replenish their system, however this can also put them at a potentially higher risk for an accident to occur if consuming large amounts quickly.

     Not to fear though, unless you severely stray from your ordinary amount, drinking a couple extra glasses a day most likely won’t hurt you. Continue to drink your water if you feel thirsty, you wouldn’t want to become dehydrated!


posted in Hydration and Your Health