Can You Really Drink Too Much Water? We Investigated

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August 19, 2022 — 17:36 PM

It truly cannot be overstated how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when the summer months make it downright impossible to stay cool. Outside of regulating your body temperature, drinking enough water is vital for detoxification and even immune support and should be a priority throughout your day. But is there a chance you could be drinking too much water? The short answer: maybe, but it’s unlikely.

While the ideal amount of water varies for each person depending on your geographic location, body type, and more, according to Dana Cohen, M.D., integrative medicine physician and co-author of Quench, you should aim to drink about half of your body weight in ounces of water each day to ensure you’re staying adequately hydrated.

However, while it would take a lot to reach the point of “overhydrating,” it is, in fact, possible to drink too much water. “In overhydration an excess of water dilutes the electrolyte concentrations in the blood, causing imbalance throughout the body’s many systems,” physician Catherine Waldrop, M.D., previously told mbg.

In fact, drinking too much water can even lead to an electrolyte imbalance called hyponatremia, that can have some fairly gnarly side effects on the body. “Mild hyponatremia is characterized by gastrointestinal tract symptoms, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite,” one study revealed. In short, hyponatremia is essentially low sodium in the blood. 

Signs you’re overhydrated.

Thankfully, it is relatively unlikely that you’re presently overhydrated as this would require you to be chugging extreme amounts of water daily (for example, a gallon or more). If your pee is clear, though, this may be a sign you need to scale it back. “At that point, your body is just dumping water,” urologist Vannita Simma-Chiang, M.D., previously explained.

That being said, if you’ve been chugging from a gallon bottle and are experiencing symptoms of nausea, headache, vomiting, and muscle cramping, these are also telltale signs of overhydration. “In very severe cases, seizure, coma, or death can result,” Waldrop added.

Let’s be clear: You absolutely should be sipping on water throughout the day to stay hydrated. But seeing as you can have too much of a good thing, this extends to water as well. So drink when you’re thirsty instead of going overboard. “Any time you feel thirsty or your throat is dry, it’s a good idea to drink water,” recommends Simma-Chiang.

Both being dehydrated and overhydrated carry their own set of health concerns, so focus on sipping moderately throughout the day—you don’t need to be carrying around a gallon of water to feel adequately hydrated.

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