Symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

Overview

Drinking enough water is essential for the proper functioning of our body cells. But overhydration is a problem. The amount of water one should consume daily cannot be calculated using any specific yardstick. But the generally accepted suggestion is to drink at least eight glasses a day. A person’s environment, exercise routine, general health and circumstances, such as pregnancy or breastfeeding, determine the amount of water their body needs.

This blog attempts to address water intoxication, also known as hyperhydration, and its complications.

How much water is too much?

It is not the case that a certain amount of water always leads to fatal water poisoning. It is preferable to find out how much water a person consumes in an hour. Age, gender and general health are other parameters to consider.

The kidneys of a healthy adult can remove about 20 to 28 liters of water per day, but only about 1 liter per hour. When people drink more than 1 liter per hour, their kidneys struggle to keep up.

Older people and children tend to have less efficient kidneys. Thus, the amount of water they can safely consume each hour may be slightly less than others.

What Are the Symptoms of Hyperhydration?

When a person drinks more than 3 to 4 liters of water in a short period of time, he may start showing symptoms of water intoxication. Headache, muscle cramps, spasms, dizziness, vomiting, sluggishness, exhaustion and weakness are possible symptoms of water intoxication.

This can potentially lead to seizures or loss of consciousness in more severe cases. Water intoxication can be fatal if the affected person is not treated as soon as possible.

What Are the Causes of Hyperhydration?

Most reported incidents of life-threatening water intoxication were associated with strenuous exercise, such as military training or marathon running. Others are the result of excessive water intake caused by a mental health problem or forced intake as a form of abuse.

The use of the drug MDMA is also associated with water intoxication, especially at music events. It happens because individuals dance in a hot environment for extended periods of time. This allows them to drink a lot of water, along with MDMA’s tendency to make you feel hotter.

If you take in more water than your body can handle, the salt in your blood is diluted, which can cause cells to expand.

Is Hyperhydration Deadly?

While it’s uncommon, it’s a possibility. People can die from consuming too much water. For this to happen, one would have to consume a significant amount of water quickly, which is unintentionally difficult for most people to achieve.

But if a person engages in various physically demanding activities or is an endurance athlete, their risk may be higher. When this happens one can usually detect if they need to drink more water by checking the color of the urine and how thirsty they are.

Depending on the person’s general health, size, and other criteria, the health care provider may provide more detailed advice.

Is it possible to prevent hyperhydration?

A few basic guidelines can help prevent water intoxication if you drink a lot of water in a short period of time.

Drinking water at the first feeling of thirst is advisable instead of waiting. Once you have quenched your thirst, you can wait until the next occurrence and you are not allowed to drink during that break.

One can also use the color of the urine to adjust the water intake. If your urine is crystal clear, you may be at risk of overhydration. Clear urine isn’t always dangerous, but it is a sign that you won’t need to drink water for a while.

If preparing for a tough workout, consider hydrating with a sodium-containing electrolyte drink, such as a sports drink.

Conclusion

Water is a significant part of the human body and is essential for cell survival and function. When a person needs extra water, his body will let him know. When a person drinks too much without listening to the body’s signals, it can lead to fatal conditions. If you’re not sure how much water to consume each day, follow the standard recommendation of eight glasses or visit the care supplier for expert guidance.

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