Water Intoxication: Symptoms, How Much Water Should You Drink
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Water Intoxication: Can Drinking Too Much Water Kill You?

HealthyStripe's Editorial Team
9 December 2021

You must hear a lot of time that you should drink a sufficient amount of water to keep your body hydrated. It is necessary to rehydrate yourself timely because every cell and tissue depends on water for its proper function. This is the reason why water plays a significant role in everyone’s life. Everyone must develop a habit of drinking water after a certain interval because your body loses water through sweating or breathing, so it is essential to maintain the water balance.

Drinking water is beneficial if you drink it in a sufficient amount because drinking too much water puts your body in danger. If you want to know how drinking too much water can kill you, this article is for you. Keep reading for a better understanding. 

Drinking too Much Water Kills You?

The answer is No, drinking too much water can’t kill you because when you try to drink too much water, the body will start finding ways to get all the liquid out either through urine or through vomiting due to which the water which supposed to kill you comes out from your body naturally.

When you drink too much water in a shorter period, it can cause water intoxication. Water intoxication occurs when your body experiences severe electrolyte imbalance, specifically Sodium, due to drinking water more than a liter per hour or several hours. It is also known as water poisoning, hyperhydration, or hyponatremia. 

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The presence of a suitable amount of Sodium in the blood is vital, but when you drink too much water, the Sodium level drops down, and the water enters your body’s cells. This leads to swelling in the cells, which causes serious issues. When an excessive amount of water builds up in the brain, it is known as cerebral edema, which can severely affect the functions of the central nervous system.

Water Intoxication Symptoms:

When you drink more than 3 to 4 liters of water in a few hours without giving your body enough time to flush it out, you will experience the following symptoms of water intoxication:

If not treated timely, water intoxication can cause more severe symptoms such as seizures or loss of consciousness. Water intoxication generally occurs in people who participate in sporting events, endurance training, or the military. 

If you wonder how long does water intoxication lasts, then it entirely depends on you. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above by consuming too much water, it is recommended to reach your medical professional as soon as possible. 

Apart from this, you should:

  • Limit fluid intake
  • To increase the amount of urine, take diuretics
  • Replace sodium in severe water intoxication cases

How Much Water Intake is Fatal?

Generally, there is no appropriate amount that causes water intoxication because it will depend on an individual’s age, gender, and other criteria. But your kidney can excrete 20 to 28 liter of water each day and can flush out 0.8 to 1 liter of water per hour. So it becomes difficult for your kidneys to keep up when you drink more than 1 liter of water. To avoid water intoxication, it is vital to maintain your kidney by drinking sufficient water they can excrete.

According to a report, water intoxication occurred in a 22-year old prisoner who drank almost 6 liters of water in 3 hours. Another case that represents soldiers developed symptoms of overhydration after drinking more than 5 liters of water during a period of a few hours.

Therefore it is confirmed that your kidney can’t drink more than 1 liter per hour, and if the limit exceeds, it will cause water intoxication.

Water intoxication happens more quickly in older adults and children because their kidneys are less efficient, and the amount of water they can drink per hour is a bit lower. It is possible to get sick or die by drinking too much or water, but it is not easy to reach that point where you can die after drinking a lot of water.

Also Read: Hydration: Your Complete Guide to Improved Health

How Much Water Should A Person Drink in a Day?

There is no verified guideline on how much water a person should drink in a day because water intake depends on various factors such as:

  • Weight
  • Physical activity
  • Climate
  • Gender
  • Whether they are breastfeeding or not.

As per the National Academy of Medicine, it is recommended that men aged 19-30 should drink 3.7 liters a day, and women of the same age should drink 2.7 liters a day. But, athletes, pregnant women older adults should drink more water than anyone else to maintain good health. Older adults who drink an adequate amount of water will not complain about constipation and have lower bladder cancer risks.

You can also fulfill the need for water by eating water rich fruits and vegetables that have high water content. You can introduce different things to your diet, such as spinach, lettuce, carrots, strawberries, apples, pears, oranges, etc. They have a high amount of water content which is beneficial for your body.

8 Ounce Glasses of Water Theory

Many people follow the 8×8 rule, which means they drink 8-ounce glasses of water every day. However, this is not based on any research.

Your body will maintain a balance of water coming in and flushing out. If you consume a lot of water, your body will excrete more, and when you drink less water, it will excrete less. The water regulating hormone arginine vasopressin regulates your body’s water balance and fluid excretion. 

How much water should you drink to lose weight?

Increasing water ingestion has been linked to weight loss in several studies. However, weight loss is an outcome of various factors acting together  like regular physical activity, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep.

An adult is recommended to have eight 8 ounce glasses of water. One can increase or decrease the water intake according to the weather, level of physical activity, weight, and type of work throughout the day, being some of them.

Staying hydrated boosts metabolism and gives an extra kick to rapid weight loss.

To examine how hydrated you are, notice the aroma and color of the urine. Lighter urine with less aroma indicates optimum hydration, whereas darker and aromatic urine indicates dehydration. 

How many bottles of water should you drink a day?

Try to have at least 2-3 bottles (750 ml bottle) every day. Water intake depends on multiple factors like environment, type of job, physical activity, etc. Staying hydrated is of utmost importance to maintain normal bodily functions.

What happens if you drink too much water?

Drinking too much water in a shorter span can lead to a condition known as water intoxication. Excess water intake can disturb the normal electrolyte balance and if not catered might have serious consequences.

It might happen when an athlete tries to compensate for the water loss during an event. Drink water as per your requirement, avoid too much water hoping it will be more beneficial.

Wrap Up 

If you think that you are drinking too much water over a short period of time, then you should hold on for a time until you start feeling thirsty again. Drinking too much water can cause water intoxication, but it’s rare that someone dies from drinking too much water.

If you are an athlete or a military person, you could have been at risk of drinking too much water. You can decide whether you need to drink more water or not by checking your urine color. Clear urine is a sign that you should now take a break from water intake for a shorter time. If you are confused about your water intake, you should talk to your medical professional.

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