Being properly hydrated is essential for the proper functioning of the body. There are many benefits of drinking water, because ingesting it in sufficient quantities makes it possible to regulate body temperature, eliminate toxins and promote intestinal transit, among many other beneficial aspects. We know that water is essential for life itself and that avoiding dehydration is essential to maintain health, but what happens if you drink a lot of water? Drinking a lot of water is bad or not?
Aware of the importance of promoting good hydration, there are many people who drink water constantly, and ‘force’ themselves to take a sip from time to time, for example, while working. In those cases, in which drinking water, with or without thirst, is almost a habit, one might wonder if there is a danger of hyperhydration. If you are worried about whether you are drinking too much water, in this article we analyze the consequences this situation can have and tell you what the symptoms of drinking too much water are.
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea can be a symptom that you have ingested an excessive amount of liquids, especially when drinking a lot of water at once . It can occur, for example, when drinking a large amount of water after intense physical activity. Although water is necessary to recover the correct water levels after exercise, drinking it in large quantities and greedily can make you ‘fall’ ill whether it is on an ’empty’ stomach or in the process of digestion.
Fatigue and headaches
These are two common symptoms when the body is experiencing strong dehydration, but they can also indicate the opposite, that is, hyperhydration. Actually, they are one of the manifestations of the disease called hyponatremia, which is a condition that occurs when blood sodium levels are below normal.
Sodium is a mineral (electrolyte) that regulates fluid balance in the body. Excessive intake of water can cause it to be excessively diluted in the bloodstream (plasma) and, seeking precisely that balance between the cells and the liquids that surround them, these ‘excess’ liquids end up penetrating inside the cells causing an abnormal and dangerous increase in its size that can lead to different health problems, some of which are very serious. Tiredness, fatigue and headaches due to the ‘swelling’ of brain cells, which are pressed by the cranial bones, can be symptoms of this imbalance in the body.
Muscle weakness and cramps
Muscle weakness and cramps can be another symptom that indicates that we have drunk too much water for a long period of time. The reason is the same: hyponatremia, which can also affect the cells that make up muscle tissues and cause them to swell or increase in size. Therefore, just as it can give us a headache, it can cause problems in the muscles, noting weakness and some cramps.
The kidneys are the main ones in charge of filtering the liquids of our organism to eliminate toxins and waste substances through urine. Drinking fluids in sufficient quantities is essential for their proper functioning, but drinking a lot of water can be bad for the kidneys, since the excessive filtering work to which they are subjected could cause adverse reactions, including fluid retention or the situation of permanent fatigue and that seems inexplicable. In fact, people who suffer from some degree of kidney failure must have their daily fluid intake perfectly controlled.
If this area hurts, it may be due to these causes, but there are many more that may be causing this pain, to varying degrees.
Alterations in the urinary system
Not only the kidneys can suffer problems if you drink too much water, but the urinary system in general can be affected by an excessive intake of water. It is normal to urinate more frequently if we drink a lot of fluids, but when the amounts are abnormally high, the urinary system may not be able to expel them and fluid and toxin retention problems arise. In addition, the excessively frequent need to urinate can cause other problems such as insomnia, as the action of the HAD hormone, which controls this basic function of the body, is altered.
Increased blood pressure
The increase in the volume of the blood flow could also, in extreme cases, increase the pressure that the blood exerts on veins and arteries and may even affect cardiac function, since the heart would have to make a greater effort to pump it.
Also in extreme cases, hyperhydration could lead to significant fluid accumulation, especially in the lower extremities and abdomen, as well as in vital organs such as the lungs. As we have already mentioned, excess water causes problems in the urinary system and, since not enough can be eliminated, the liquid accumulates.
For example, if you see your feet, ankles and legs with edema or swelling, there is fluid retention in the area and it may be this problem or other possible causes, since this is a symptom present in a variety of conditions.
How much water is recommended to drink per day
It is important to clarify that the symptoms and effects described so far refer to a high intake of water or other liquids, which could trigger hyponatremia, especially if there are previous ailments that facilitate or aggravate the situation. The question is to determine what amount of water is advisable to keep us hydrated but avoiding risks, both by default and by excess of liquids.
Although it has been said that the ideal is to drink about 2 liters of water a day, in reality, there is no formula that determines the exact amount recommended because each person has specific needs. Weight, age and the physical activity that is carried out or even the weather conditions, more or less heat, are some of the aspects that must be taken into account when establishing quantities. Even so, the World Health Organization (WHO) establishes as a reference an approximate intake of between 1.5 and 2 liters of water per day, both water itself and other liquids that different foods provide us, such as fruits and also other drinks such as infusions or juices, since they contain a lot of water in their composition.