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How to Avoid Overhydration

We often hear that we need to drink water to replace our fluid loss, which mostly occurs via sweat and urine. Since we are made of 60 percent water – our brain is 70 percent water and our lungs nearly 90 percent – we need to make sure we remain hydrated. Drinking enough water also helps us make sure we maintain our body temperature, have healthy skin, keep our kidneys clean and prevent constipation, and it even helps control our appetite.

During the summer months, when our temperature rises, we sweat more and tend to consume more water, but how much is too much? We often see people carrying a water bottle that ranges from 12 ounces to a gallon, sipping and drinking water all day long. Is that healthy?

It’s important to make sure we are not overhydrating, which is the opposite of dehydration. Most people know about dehydration because it’s more common. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions.” Overhydration, also known as water intoxication or water poisoning, is when there is too much water in your body, enough to cause an abnormal balance of electrolytes in your system.

Although there are some medical reasons for water retention – such as heart, liver or kidney disease – overhydration can also occur when we are drinking too much water. That’s why it is important to watch how much, exactly, we’re consuming. Here are key tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drink more than the amount of water you’re losing.
  • If you’re a frequent water drinker, check the color of your urine first to determine your level of hydration. If your urine is light yellow, it’s normal; if it’s darker, you may need to consume more water. But, if your urine is clear, you may be drinking too much.

Some common signs of overhydration include irritability, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and headaches due to loss of sodium. Cramps can also be felt due to loss of potassium, which can cause an irregular heartbeat and even paralysis. It’s also important to note that severe overhydration can cause your cells to swell up – which can then lead to increased pressure in your brain and possibly cause seizures, coma or even death.

In order to avoid overhydration, cut back on drinking if you’re consuming more than 8 cups of fluids per day. Make sure you’re counting all fluids within those 8 cups – including broths, teas, coffee, sodas, juices, sports drinks, iced tea and all other beverages. Although over hydration isn’t as common as dehydration, it’s important to be aware of the risks, measure your fluids intake and be safe.

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U.S. News – Health

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One comment

  1. I like to drink the required amount of water every day, but I sometimes drink more. Your article has helped me learn so much about overhydration and how to avoid it. Great article you have here. Read more on overhydration here: [http://survival-mastery.com/med/health/overhydration.html]

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