Is Drinking Too Much Water Harmful to the Body?

The human body is mainly made up of water. Therefore, it is important for you to meet their needs by drinking water. However, what happens if you drink too much water? Let’s look at the following bad effects.

The dangers of drinking too much water

All parts of the human body need water to work properly. Water is present in the bloodstream and fills cells and the intercellular spaces.

That way, of course you have to meet the needs of drinking water every day. Even so, drinking too much water can actually be harmful to health.

Drinking too much water may lead to overhydration and water intoxication. The following is an explanation of the two conditions.

1. Overhydration

Overhydration is a term to describe the condition of the body that has excess fluid intake. This is of course inversely proportional to dehydration or the body lacks fluids.

People with overhydration generally experience certain diseases or conditions so that the body is not able to get rid of excess water properly.

This condition can also occur when you drink more water than your kidneys can excrete through urine.

This water that cannot be removed will be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Eventually, your body will store too much water.

2. Water poisoning

Water poisoning is a brain function disorder caused by consuming too much water without increasing daily salt intake.

This condition occurs when salt (sodium) and other electrolytes in the body become too dilute, which is known medically as hyponatremia.

Hyponatremia can be experienced when the sodium level in the blood is below 135 millimoles/liter (mmol/l).

When sodium levels drop due to excessive water consumption, the body’s cells can absorb more water, causing swelling.

If it occurs in brain cells, it can cause serious symptoms and even death.

What are the symptoms of drinking too much?

Overhydration in the early stages is generally asymptomatic. However, this condition is generally only symptomatic when the pressure in the skull increases due to the enlargement of brain cells.

This is what triggers the early symptoms of water poisoning, such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

If left untreated, drinking too much water can lead to very low sodium levels in your bloodstream.

In more severe cases of water poisoning, you may also experience a number of symptoms, such as:

1. sleepy,
2. confusion,
3. difficulty thinking,
4. experiencing disorientation,
5. muscle cramps, and
6. hard to breathe.

In addition to these symptoms, brain swelling or cerebral edema can seriously affect the brainstem and cause central nervous system dysfunction.

This condition can be fatal because of the risk of causing seizures, brain damage, coma, and even death.

What causes a person to drink too much water?

It is very difficult for a person to accidentally consume too much water. This is because drinking water can not cause addictive effects.

The following are the reasons a person drinks too much water which leads to overhydration.

1. Undergo strenuous physical activity

Overhydration is often experienced by endurance athletes or soldiers after undergoing training with strenuous physical activity.

This can happen when a person drinks a lot of water without properly taking into account the loss of sodium and electrolytes in the body.

A case in the Journal of Medical Case Reports (2007) showed a case of severe water poisoning in a marathon runner could result in death.

Drinking lots of water without electrolytes makes sodium levels drop below 135 mmol/l. This triggers a buildup of fluid in the brain that results in the runner’s death.

2. Mental disorders

Schizophrenia is a psychiatric condition that makes it difficult for a person to stop doing things, including drinking water.

Excessive drinking of water which in medical terms is called psychogenic polydipsia is a common symptom of various mental disorders.

If it happens for a long time, this will be very dangerous for people with schizophrenia.

The patient is unaware and cannot stop drinking water alone, without getting special treatment from a doctor.

3. Other medical conditions

This generally occurs in someone who has diabetes or is on medication with side effects that trigger dry mouth.

In addition, symptoms of overhydration without drinking too much water can also be caused by a number of diseases that trigger more water storage, such as:

1. liver disease,
2. kidney disease, and
3. congestive heart failure.

Overhydration can also occur due to impaired secretion of antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin). This stimulates the kidneys to conserve water when the body doesn’t really need it.

How to deal with overhydration and water poisoning?

Overhydration is often characterized by nausea and dizziness after drinking too much water. In order not to get worse, immediately stop drinking water.

Doctors can also give diuretic drugs to trigger fluid loss through the urine and increase sodium levels in the blood again.

Quoted from the National Kidney Foundation, you may also need treatment for severe cases of water poisoning such as the following.

1. Sodium infusion. Sodium in liquid form can be given through a vein (intravenous/IV) to increase the amount of sodium in the blood again.

2. Drugs. Prescription medications will help the kidneys excrete large amounts of urine, thereby returning electrolyte concentrations to normal levels.

3. Dialysis. Dialysis procedures are performed to reduce excess water in the body, especially when the kidneys cannot work properly.

What is the highest limit of water intake in a day?

One of the causes of drinking too much water in too short a time is when you feel excessive thirst after exercising or strenuous physical activity.

To avoid this condition, drink water 15-30 minutes beforehand so you don’t have to drink too much after physical activity. Avoid drinking more than one liter of water in an hour.

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia advises adults to drink eight glasses of 230 ml of water per day or 2 liters per day.

In addition to drinks, fluid intake can be obtained from food, such as fruits and vegetables.

However, each person’s daily water needs are different. This can be influenced by weight, level of physical activity, weather, and various other factors.

The most important thing is to always make sure to drink enough water whenever you feel thirsty. Thirst is a sign that the body is in need of water.

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