We’re constantly being told the benefits of regularly drinking water, and more often than not, these benefits stand true, says Morgan Statt, Health and Safety Investigator at ConsumerSafety.org. “From boosting your immune system to clearing your skin, you’d be hard-pressed to find something water doesn’t help with. But, unfortunately, it is possible to drink too much water.”
Statt warns against drinking more than 27-33 fluid ounces (about three and a half to four cups) per hour. This can lead to hyponatremia when you’re taking in more water than you can pee out. This makes your blood sodium levels dangerously low, leading to fatigue, vomiting, confusion, headaches, and sometimes death.
The effects of excessive fluid consumption are usually not this severe, but they are very disruptive. Here are some signs that you could be drinking too much water or other fluids.
How is it possible to drink too much water?
Dietitians and health practitioners constantly remind us that drinking enough water is absolutely vital in order for our bodies to function properly. And it is—unless you drink too much of it.
While most people look out for the signs of dehydration, overhydration is equally as dangerous. Drinking too much can result in water intoxication, also known as hyponatremia, causing the inside of cells to flood due to abnormally low sodium levels in your bloodstream.
In severe cases, water intoxication can lead to debilitating health problems such as seizures, coma, and even death. Here is how you can know that you are drinking too much.
Here are 8 signs you are drinking too much water
1. You Always Have A Water Bottle In Hand
If you carry around your bottle all day and immediately refill it when it depletes, this might be one of the signs you are drinking too much water
Constant drinking can result in low sodium levels in your blood, which can cause all of the cells in your body to swell. This can become particularly dangerous when your brain starts to swell. The human brain can only swell about 8 to 10 percent before it reaches the skull and it pushes the brain stem out.
2. You Experience Nausea And Vomiting
The symptoms of overhydration are quite similar to those of dehydration. One of the signs you are drinking too much water, your kidneys become unable to get rid of the excess liquid and water starts to collect in the body.
This can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
3. You Have Throbbing Headaches
Headaches are both a sign of overhydration and dehydration, similar to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. When you drink too much water, the salt concentration in your blood reduces, causing the cells in the organs throughout your body to swell.
When your salt concentration is low, your cells grow. When you drink too many fluids, your brain actually grows in size and presses against the skull.
The added pressure can cause a throbbing headache and more serious health problems such as brain impairment and trouble breathing.
4. You Drink Even When You’re Not Thirsty
The best way to know if your body really needs more water is to be consciously aware of whether or not you actually feel thirsty. The human body is programmed to fight against dehydration with built-in mechanisms to protect against it.
One of these mechanisms that all animals have is thirst. Thirst is the individual monitor that lets humans know if they need more. The more water you need, the thirstier you get.
5. Your Urine Is Always Clear
If you’re drinking a healthy amount of water, the color of your urine should be straw to transparent yellow. While most people believe clear urine is the healthiest sign of hydration, however, having urine with no pigmentation at all may be one of the signs you are drinking too much water.
For a lot of people, eight to ten glasses of water a day is considered a normal amount. This suggestion, however, varies depending on an individual’s height, weight, and exercise patterns.
6. You Urinate Frequently
One clear sign that you are taking too much water is if you find yourself often waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Most people urinate between six and eight times a day. If you find yourself urinating more than ten times a day, you may be drinking more water than your body needs.
To prevent nighttime urination, have your last glass of water a couple hours before bed to give your kidneys time to filter the water through your body.
7. You are getting Cramps
Excessive urination can lead to a loss of potassium, a mineral that helps your body contract and relax your muscles, says Statt. Without it, you might notice yourself more easily cramping.
8. Swollen Hands and Feets
When your kidneys are working overtime to filter out all the water you’re consuming and balance your fluid levels, you might experience adrenal fatigue, as well as a rise in stress hormones, says Statt.
Many of these signs you are drinking too much water don’t indicate over-hydration in of themselves, so also check your urine color and the frequency with which you’re going to the bathroom. If you’ve over-hydrated, Statt recommends avoiding water and instead having a sports drink, which can replenish your electrolytes. If you’re experiencing symptoms of hyponatremia, you’ll want to go to the doctor’s to get a saltwater injection and any other treatments necessary to restore your body’s electrolyte balance.