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Overhydration: Is there such a thing as drinking too much water?

Here are a few signs indicating that you are drinking too much water.

11 Sep '23
5 min read


Believe it or not! It’s possible to drink too much water and become over-hydrated.

Just like the saying – “Too much of anything is good for nothing” stands true for water.


The human body consists of 80% of water. Water is essential for the proper functioning of the body. You may have read that every person must drink 3 to 4 litres on a daily basis. But suppose that in the pursuit of completing your goal, you over-drink? Drinking too much water can lead to overhydration and water intoxication.


What is Over Hydration?

Overhydration occurs when a person consumes too much water, which is essential to the kidneys. It can cause an imbalance in the electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Hyponatremia develops when the volume of sodium becomes too diluted, which is the primary concern of over-hydration.

But how do you know your water intake is too much?

How much water can be too much?

A 2013 study says kidneys can eliminate about 20-28 liters daily. However, it cannot process more than 0.8 to 1 litre per hour. So, if your water intake is more than this, it can be harmful.

How much water can you drink?

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no specific number as to how much amount of water a person can drink. The right amount depends on factors like body weight and physical activity and varies from person to person, like women, athletes, pregnant women, etc. You can check this article to learn more about daily water intake.

Signs Indicating Overhydration

Here are a few signs to look out for to see if you are over-hydrated:


1.Your urine color is clear:

Monitoring the color of your urine is one of the best ways to know if you are drinking too much water. According to Healthline, pale yellow urine shows a healthy level of hydration. Dark yellow is a sign of dehydration, and clear urine is a sign that you are overhydrated. You will need to reduce your water intake.

2.You’re urinating frequently:

Overhydration can cause frequent urination


Are you urinating frequently, including at night time? On average, a person will urinate between 6 to 10 times. But if you’re urinating more than 10 times a day, you are drinking more water than your body needs.


3.You’re fatigued:

Overhydration can make you feel tired


If you’re drinking too much water, it can lead to Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia lowers the sodium level in the blood, which is a sign of over-hydration. It can cause a dip in your energy level and drowsiness. You may also have a constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue.


4. Your hands, legs, or lips are swollen:

Overhydration can cause your legs to swell

Water is essential as it balances the electrolytes in your body and keeps your energy level high. This balance fluctuates as you drink more water. If you are experiencing an electrolyte imbalance, it may be in the form of Hyponatremia or swelling in your hands, legs, or lips.


5.You’re experiencing throbbing headaches and nausea:

Overhydration can cause headaches


Headaches can arise as a result of overhydration or dehydration. According to WebMD, drinking too much water can cause salt concentration in your blood to drop. The cells in your organs will swell. It can affect your brain as well. As you drink too much water, the cells in your brain grow and press against your skull. The symptoms include throbbing headaches that can lead to nausea, vomiting, and more.

6. Your muscles are weak and shaky:

Drinking too much water can cause an electrolyte imbalance. It takes a toss on your body balance. Do you experience pain in your arms and legs, but not related to physical exhaustion? Are you shaky? It could be a sign of overhydration. Low electrolyte levels can also cause unpleasant symptoms like muscle spasms, cramping, and more.


Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How much water should I drink in a day?

Experts recommend about 3.7 liters of fluids in a day for men and about 2.7 liters of fluids a day for women. However, this number can vary depending on physical activity, age, medical conditions, and more.


2. How do I know if I am overhydrated?

As mentioned above, you’ll experience symptoms like cloudy thinking, nausea, muscle cramps, headaches, imbalance, and more.

3. How to fix overhydration immediately?

You will have to reduce your water intake to fix overhydration. If the symptoms don’t seem to go away even after reduced water intake, please consult a doctor.


4. How much water is too much?

Healthy adult kidneys can remove about 1 liter of water per hour. Although no specific amount is given as to what can cause overhydration, it is best not to drink more than the kidneys can handle.


5. How long does overhydration last?

Recovery from overhydration can be typically quick, and you will notice the symptoms subside when you reduce your water intake. However, the recovery time can vary depending on age, weight, a person’s health condition, and more.

Category : Health and Wellness


Written by A V