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Is it possible to drink ‘too much’ water? Learn about water intoxication and how to prevent it

There are side effects of drinking 'too much' water, also known as water intoxication. Water intoxication can affect electrolyte and sodium levels, causing swelling in the brain cells and leading to various health risks. Learn more about water intoxication, its symptoms and how to prevent it.

Edited By: Kristina Das @ New Delhi Updated on: May 29, 2024 13:25 IST
Learn about water intoxication and how to prevent it
Image Source : PEXELS Learn about water intoxication and how to prevent it.

In the scorching Delhi heat, it is impossible to not become dehydrated. This is why, there have been health alerts advising you to drink as much water as possible to prevent a heat stroke. However, have you ever wondered how much water is too much? Drinking ‘too much’ water can cause something known as water intoxication and could lead to various imbalances in your body. Read more to find out what is water intoxication, symptoms and how to prevent it this summer.

Water intoxication: What is it?

Water intoxication is a condition wherein the brain function is disrupted due to drinking too much water. The kidneys can remove a maximum of 1 litre of water per hour and exceeding this could cause an imbalance in the body’s electrolyte levels. Electrolytes and sodium experience extreme dilution if too much water enters the bloodstream, also known as hyponatremia (sodium level imbalance). When sodium levels drop, cells may swell and if caused to brain cells, it could pose a danger to your cognitive well-being and even become life-threatening. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in 2015 has revealed that fatal consequences of water intoxication are common among athletes as they consume too much water in a short amount of time.

Water intoxication: Symptoms

An excessive amount of water consumption can cause brain cells to begin swelling and decrease the pressure inside the skull. The first line of symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In severe cases, the second line of symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Double vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Feelings of anxiety and confusion
  • Inability to process sensory information

Water intoxication: Prevention

Drink water in breaks - To prevent consuming too much water at once, space out your consumption every few hours and give your kidneys enough time to process the water quantity.

Avoid consumption of drugs/substances- Consuming drugs can affect your chemical balance in the body and brain and could send the wrong neurological messages throughout your body.

Monitor electrolyte levels- Water intoxication is common among athletes as they drink large amounts of water in a short period after their matches. Ensure you are mindful of the electrolyte balance in your body and drink accordingly.

Make sure to keep these points in mind and drink water mindfully to stay healthy throughout the summer. If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be advised to consult a medical professional immediately.

ALSO READ: Should patients consume sugar or jaggery when cholesterol levels rise? Expert shares healthy option


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