What is Water Intoxication? Check Out These 5 Drawbacks Of Drinking Too Much Water

Drinking excess water is not good for your health as it weakens the ability of the kidneys to excrete excess water load and sodium in the body becomes diluted. This is known as hyponatremia and it can be life-threatening. 

Vanshika Swami
Jan 11, 2021 14:36 IST
drinking excess water

Water is traditionally known as one of the best healing solutions for any ailment. The human body comprises of around 60% of water and it is essential to carry out multiple bodily functions. While the benefits of consuming water are widely known, it is also important to know how much water to consume in a day. Ideally, a person should drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day, but sometimes, it is difficult to keep a count on your water intake. There are fair chances of water intoxication which usually happens due to intense training or sporting events.


Dr. Shikha Sharma, Wellness and Nutrition Expert in New Delhi, says, “Consuming too much water indicates the improper functioning of kidneys. Water intoxication can lead to unnecessary overloading on the cardiac muscles and can lower down the blood pressure.” Besides, drinking excess water is not good for your health as it weakens the ability of the kidneys to excrete excess water load and sodium in the body becomes diluted. This condition is known as hyponatremia and it can be life threatening.

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Yes, drinking excess water is not healthy for your body.


What is water intoxication?

Water intoxication is a disturbance in the proper and smooth functioning of the brain which is caused by drinking too much water. It is also known as water poisoning. According to a report, drinking too much water can increase the amount of water present in the blood which in return dilutes the electrolytes, especially sodium, in the blood. Sodium helps maintain the balance of fluids inside as well as outside of cells. When sodium levels drop below  135 millimoles per liter (mmol/l), due to excessive water consumption, fluids travel from the outside to the inside of cells, which results in swelling of the cells. Doctors refer to this situation as hyponatremia which is dangerous and can result in a life threat.

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Here are 5 drawbacks of drinking excess water:

  1. Besides hyponatremia, a dangerous condition that results in swelling of the cells due to water intoxication, hypokalemia is a decrease in potassium ions which is caused by over-hydration in the human body. Dr. Shikha Sharma says, "The balance between intracellular and extracellular potassium ions is disturbed when a person drinks too much water." In fact,  even a single percent change in potassium ion distribution can lead to a 50 percent change in plasma potassium ion concentration. This can result in severe diarrhoea and prolonged sweating.
  2. A decrease of sodium levels in the body can allow water to enter the cells through the semipermeable cell membrane which can cause swelling in the cells. This swelling of the body cells and that of the brain can cause serious damage to the muscle tissues, organs, and brain of a person. Moreover, it can also result in conditions of speech disability, disorientation, walking instability, psychosis, and even death.
  3. Overconsumption of water can cause fatigue and tiredness. Human kidneys are designed for filtering out the water a person drinks. It also maintains the fluid levels in the bloodstream. With excessive consumption of water, your kidneys may become pressurised to work even harder, thus creating a stressful reaction from your hormones that leave your body and you stressed and tired.
  4. Drinking too much water can possibly cause brain and visceral organ damage which leads to coma and death. It is advisable to avoid overconsumption of water in a short period of time. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adequate daily fluid intake for men is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) whereas it is 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.
  5. Frequent urination can end you in the bathroom every 30 minutes, which can cause serious frustration whether you are at home, school, or at your workspace. When you drink too much water, your kidneys are in constant pressure of functioning and as a result, you have to rush to the washroom again and again. Frequent urination also happens as your body fails to absorb an extra amount of fluid.

One can determine the dehydration of their body by checking the colour of their urine. If your urine appears dark yellow, there are chances that your body needs more water intake. However, this may differ from person to person and it is best advised to learn from a doctor.

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