Drinking Excess Water May Be Doing More Harm Than You Think

We have all heard about the importance of hydration. According to Everyday Health, 60% of your body weight is water, and your body needs H2O to do all sorts of things. For one, water keeps your joints and other tissues lubricated. Your kidneys need it to help flush toxins from your system. Water helps break down the food you eat, making digestion easier. 

Your brain needs water, too. Without enough of it, you may begin to feel foggy-headed, weak, and even confused. Water is also necessary for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. If you're dehydrated, the chemicals in your blood may become imbalanced, which can lower your blood pressure, making you feel light-headed.

In general, men need about 15.5 cups of water per day while women should drink about 11.5 cups (per Everyday Health). While it is important to drink enough water, there are times when you can drink too much.

Water intoxication is a real thing

When you drink too much water, you can become over-hydrated, leading to water intoxication. And when there is too much water in your cells, it throws off the balance of electrolytes in your body (via Healthline). For example, too much water dilutes the sodium in your body, and this condition is called hyponatremia. 

The American Kidney Foundation explains that symptoms of hyponatremia include a lack of energy, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, and headaches. Healthline points out that high-performance athletes are the most likely to become overhydrated. That said, some medical conditions, such as liver disease, congestive heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes, and kidney problems, can make your body retain water, resulting in hyponatremia.

Treatment for over-hydration depends on what causes it in the first place. If a medical condition is not causing it, reducing water intake may be enough to remedy it. If you have hyponatremia caused by conditions such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease, it's best to speak with your doctor about the best course of action.