Now that we know the effects of not getting enough water, let's emphasize the balance here—don't go overboard with the H2O! Here's another installment of "keep a healthy balance so you don't ruin your body."
While drinking enough water is essential to weight loss, energy levels, glowing skin, and mitigated anxiety, going overboard on hydration can actually be harmful. Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. said, "There is always the case of too much of a good thing. Some people are such water drinking devotees that they are aquaholics, resulting in overhydration."
Are you an aquaholic? If you're an endurance athlete or in training for an endurance event (like a marathon, for example), you might be at risk if you're obsessing over water—in rare cases, people have been known to die from overhydration-induced water intoxication. Dr. Calapai said that an increased thirst sensation can also be caused by uncontrolled diabetes, as well as certain medications and psychiatric conditions.
Here's how you know that you've gone past your limit.
Mild Symptoms of Overhydration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in mental state (confusion or disorientation)
- Bloating (you're retaining water!)
Severe Symptoms of Overhydration
If things progress (and you don't scale back or get treatment), overhydration can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium in the blood (doctors call it hyponatremia). This can cause supersevere symptoms.
- Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
How Can Overhydration Be Prevented?
- Weigh yourself. Dr. Capalai suggests that endurance athletes weigh themselves before and after a race to determine how much water they have lost and how much they need to replenish.
- Know your limits. One liter per hour is the maximum!
- Pace your hydration. Running a half or full marathon or competing in an endurance event? Hydrate properly before and during your exercise to avoid overhydration postevent. Sip, don't chug! For everyday water drinking, sip slowly, and often, to make sure your body feels hydrated and quenched, but your intake is paced.
- Balance with sports drinks. Again, don't overdo this one, but mixing in a sports drink to your hydration will help you replace electrolytes, sodium, and potassium—these things are lost in sweat, but not replaced with water. Dr. Calapai suggests choosing a low-sugar option, with about five grams per eight-ounce serving.
- Stay in tune with your body. Dr. Calapai said to keep an eye on the toilet: "Notice how much you pee—and its color—in the morning. It should be a copious amount and pale or clear."
- Talk to your doctor. Above anything, your doctor knows best. "If you experience excessive thirst or an overly strong urge to drink water, contact your doctor before you develop symptoms—it could indicate a medical problem that requires treatment."