At first when I came across the idea of water intoxication, I was tempted to treat it with a smile. Everyone always insists upon how important staying hydrated is and what he risks are if you don’t drink enough water and so on and so forth. Therefore, I would not have imagined that there might be a risk if you’re doing the exact contrary: drinking too much water.
However, it seems that extremes are not good for either side. Hence, what is water intoxication and how do we know when we had enough water?
What is water intoxication?
You might have also heard of water poisoning or hyponatremia, which is the same thing. It basically means a disruption that appears in your brain functions due to extreme consumption of water. It also means that you are drinking far more water than your kidneys can let out, in other words, more than you can pee at once.
It all goes down to the level of sodium. Sodium has the purpose of balancing the level of liquids from your body, given the case you consume too much water, this leads to an imbalance, which makes liquids move from your blood to the inside of the cells, making them swell. And as you can imagine, swelling inside the brain is a serious matter which needs instant treatment.
The risk is far more obvious when it comes to babies, since their tiny body can intake just a small amount of liquids. That’s why it’s recommended to only give them milk or formula.
What does water intoxication look like?
Ironically, it looks a lot like dehydration. It starts with headaches, nausea, vomiting and can lead to increased blood pressure, confusion, difficulty breathing, double vision and so much more. All in all, extreme water intake leads to edema that can affect the brain and central nervous system.
How can you prevent it?
Doctors say that water intoxication in the case of healthy young people is quite rare, taking into account that one would have to drink literally gallons of water, all at once, for such extreme results. However, it is not at all unusual during sports events, or training or even a longer hiking on a sunny day when you are worried of getting dehydrated.
It is recommended that you take a look at your pee. If it has a dark color, it might be a sign of dehydration, whereas if you constantly go pee and it’s just light, chances are you are peeing merely water and that’s not good either.
The most logical prevention would be to just stop drinking when you no longer feel thirsty, however giving some exact numbers and measurements is almost impossible.
All in all, what’s good to know is that our kidneys have the capacity of eliminating around 20-28 liters of water per day, which means around 0.8/ 1 liter per hour. Anything that exceeds that raises a question mark.
The secret is to manage to stay hydrated without going to the other extreme either. The best answer might be to listen to your body and it will dictate the amount of water you need, without going overboard.
Keep in mind that balance is usually the answer to any question. The same works for water intoxication and dehydration. Let us know your feedback on this and whether you ever found yourself in the situation of having drunk too much water at once.