You can have too much of a good thing, even when that thing is water, which makes up over half the human body. Because water is such a vital part of the day-to-day functions of the body, we need to take in a certain amount daily to keep these processes running efficiently.
You don’t get water just by drinking a glass of it, though. Water van also be absorbed from foods, and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) – formerly the Institute of Medicine – estimates that only 80 percent of our water intake comes in beverage form.
So, as the weather warms up and hydration is a major concern, many of us are wondering: Exactly how much water is too much?
How much water should you drink a day?
There’s no question that drinking enough water is important. A hydrated body more efficiently transports oxygen to your brain and to your muscles during a workout. Staying hydrated will help balance your mood due to healthy mind and body regulation.
Are you sweating during a workout? Good! Evaporation aids cooling, sweating is evaporation, and hydration allows for this to happen. Your joints, spinal cord, eyes and brain are all surrounded by fluid and staying hydrated is vital to their wellbeing. Finally, hydration is the very start of breaking down all those healthy foods that you are putting in your mouth. Without saliva (or the dry mouth feeling you get when you are dehydrated) your body now has to play catch up while extracting the vital nutrients from your meals.
So, how much water should you drink every day? Despite being told that you should drink 8 glasses of water daily, there’s no “magic” number. There are, however, a number of factors that influence how much water you should take in. The NAM shares that hydrated women average 91 ounces of total water and men average 125 ounces total, stemming from both hydrating foods and beverages.
What is important to know is that your body’s water needs change based on your age your lifestyle and your sex. Your body’s hydration needs may also change if you have a fever or an illness.
What happens if you drink too much water?
When it comes to drinking water, research has found that thirst is a major sign of deficit. Other common signs of dehydration can also be signs of overhydration, which can lead to hyponatremia, causing low sodium levels due to dilution from extreme excess of fluids. It’s good to be generally aware of how much water you’re taking in throughout the day so you can get to the bottom of any sneaky symptoms.
In general, the symptoms of dehydration are much more severe than overhydration, science tells us. That being said, overhydration can be quite serious as sometimes your body cannot get rid of the extra fluid that is generated or consumed.
So, what are the symptoms of overhydration, and how can it progress in more serious situations?
Symptoms of drinking too much water
The earliest symptoms of drinking too much water include:
- Frequent urination. We’re all different, so knowing what the frequency and COLOR mean for you is key.
- This feeling usually resolves itself, so be on the lookout for prolonged cases.
- Bloating. Even in small amounts water can cause bloating, so an excess of water can fill your stomach and quickly lead to bloating.
- Vomiting. When you’re vomiting, it’s recommended that you take small sips of water. Unfortunately, drinking too much water can result in vomiting.
- Headache. Your brain is affected when sodium levels change too rapidly, so intracranial pressure can be a symptom.
More serious symptoms that may develop include:
- Muscle cramping
- Vision changes
- Blood pressure changes
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Seek medical treatment immediately if excess water consumption is suspected.
As I’ve written in previous posts, forget about 8 glasses per day or other suggestions. Drink water when you’re thirsty and check the color of your urine; it should be pale yellow.
That’s it for now; see you all the next time.