By Jennipher Walters
April 06, 2011

We're always told to "drink, drink, drink" when it comes to water. Sluggish in the afternoon? Guzzle some H2O. Want to naturally lose weight? Drink 16 oz. before meals. Think you're hungry? Try water first since thirst sometimes masquerades as hunger. However, is it possible to get too much of a good thing? It sure is. In fact, overhydrating can be just as dangerous as being extremely dehydrated.

Clinically called hyponatremia, it's a condition in which the level of sodium - an electrolyte that helps regulate water levels in the fluid in and around your cells - in your blood is abnormally low. When this happens, your body's water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to severe, and can result in death. Hyponatermia has been in the news for the past few years after a study in the New England Journal of Medicine listed overhydration as a serious health issue of some runners at the Boston Marathon.

With warmer temperatures on the horizon, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of this dangerous condition and how to prevent it. While it's not a common condition for most, for those exercising in the heat and humidity for prolonged workouts (like training for or participating in an endurance event like a marathon), it's definitely something to be aware of. Read on for what to look for and how to make sure you're hydrating properly.

Hyponatremia Symptoms

•Nausea and vomiting





•Appetite loss

•Restlessness and irritability

•Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps


•Decreased consciousness or coma

Avoiding Overhydration

•Drink small amounts of fluids at regular intervals. You shouldn't ever feel "full" of water though.

•Eat half of a banana a half hour before a workout to give your body the potassium it needs.

•When working out in hot conditions or for more than an hour, be sure to drink a sports drink that has sodium and potassium.

•Try to eat snack foods with salt, like pretzels or chips before and after long, hot workouts.

•Avoid taking aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen during any race or long workout, as it may interfere with kidney function.