What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

Every cell in the body needs water to function properly. However, drinking too much can lead to water intoxication and have serious health consequences.
It’s hard to accidentally drink too much water, but it can happen, usually as a result of overhydration during a heat wave, sporting event, or intense exercise.

Symptoms of water intoxication are general: they may include confusion, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting. In rare cases, water intoxication can cause brain swelling and be fatal. This article describes the symptoms, causes, and effects of water intoxication. It also examines how much water a person should drink each day.

What is water intoxication?

Water intoxication, also known as water intoxication, is a brain function disorder caused by excessive water consumption. This consumption increases the amount of water in the blood. This can dilute electrolytes, especially sodium, in the blood. If the sodium level falls below 135 millimoles per liter (mmol/l), doctors speak of hyponatremia.

Sodium helps maintain fluid balance inside and outside cells. When sodium levels drop due to excessive water intake, fluids migrate from the outside in, causing cells to swell. When it happens in brain cells, it can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

Conclusion: Water intoxication results from excessive water consumption. Excess water dilutes the sodium in the blood and causes fluids to move into the cells, causing them to swell.

The dangers of excessive water consumption

When a person drinks excessive amounts of water and their brain cells swell, the pressure in their skull increases. This causes the first symptoms of water intoxication, which are as follows:

– Headache
– nausea
– vomiting

Severe cases of water intoxication can produce more serious symptoms, such as:

– drowsiness
– Weakness or muscle cramps
– increased blood pressure
– double images
– Confusion
– Inability to identify sensory information
– Difficulty breathing

A buildup of fluid in the brain is called cerebral edema. This can affect the brainstem and cause central nervous system dysfunction.
In severe cases, water intoxication can cause seizures, brain damage, coma, and even death.

Drinking too much water can increase pressure in the skull. It can cause various symptoms and can be fatal in severe cases.

What can cause water intoxication?

Water intoxication is rare and it is very difficult to accidentally ingest too much water. However, there may be many medical reports of deaths due to excessive water consumption. Water intoxication most commonly affects people who participate in sporting events or endurance training, or people with various mental disorders.

sporting events

Water intoxication is particularly common in endurance athletes. It can occur when a person drinks a lot of water without properly considering the loss of electrolytes. Because of this, hyponatremia is a common occurrence at major sporting events.

As the authors of a study report, of 488 participants in the 2002 Boston Marathon, 13% had symptoms of hyponatremia and 0.06% had critical hyponatremia with a sodium level below 120 mmol/l. Cases of water intoxication during these events have resulted in death. One such case involved a runner who collapsed after a marathon. Because he had not been properly rehydrated, his sodium level fell below 130 mmol/L. The runner then developed fluid in the brain, known as hydrocephalus, and a hernia in his brainstem, causing his death.

Mental problems

Compulsive water drinking, also known as psychogenic polydipsia, can be a symptom of various mental disorders. It is more common in people with schizophrenia but can also occur in people with mood disorders, psychosis, and personality disorders. Water intoxication can be life-threatening and is more common in soldiers in training, endurance athletes, and people with schizophrenia.

How much water is too much?

Dehydration and water intoxication occur when a person drinks more water than their kidneys can excrete through the urine. The amount of water is not the only factor, the weather also plays a role. According to a 2013 study, the kidneys can excrete about 20 to 28 liters of water per day, but no more than 0.8 to 1.0 liters per hour. To avoid hyponatremia, it’s important not to overwhelm the kidneys by drinking more water than they can eliminate.

The study authors say symptoms of hyponatremia can develop if a person drinks 3 to 4 liters of water over a short period of time, although they don’t estimate exactly when.

Conclusion: The kidneys can excrete 20 to 28 liters of water per day, but no more than 0.8 to 1.0 liters per hour. Drinking more can be dangerous.

how much water do you need

The right amount depends on factors such as body weight, physical activity, climate and lactation. Some people still follow the 8×8 rule, which recommends drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, this rule is not based on research. Relying on thirst may not be for everyone. For example, athletes, the elderly, and pregnant women may need to drink more water each day. To estimate the right amount, it can be helpful to consider calories. If a person needs 2,000 calories per day, they should also consume 2,000 milliliters of water per day.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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