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Dangers of Drinking Too Much Water

Is There Such Thing as Drinking Too Much Water?

When exercising, you've got to watch out for dehydration caused by the combination of excessive sweating and not drinking enough water. To avoid the dizziness, headaches, and dry throat associated with this condition, you probably load up on water while working out, but you don't want to overdo it.

There is such a thing as drinking an excess of water. It's known as hyponatremia or water intoxication, and it's the opposite of dehydration. It basically means you have an abnormally low concentration of sodium in your blood. Guzzling a ton of water in a short amount of time can overload your kidneys and cause a drop in blood sodium levels. Sodium is important to your body because it's an electrolyte (just like potassium and chloride). Your cells need these minerals in order to pass electrical impulses to other cells for normal bodily functions. A drop in sodium levels in your blood can cause water to enter your brain, which will cause it to swell. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, nausea, restlessness, seizures, and may result in a coma or death.

To hear about how to care for and prevent hyponatremia,


If you're experiencing these symptoms, then your doctor may recommend you cut back on your fluid intake, and increase the level of sodium in your diet. If your symptoms are severe, you may need intravenous fluids to raise the sodium levels in your blood. Medication may be necessary to manage your nausea, headache, and dizziness.

To prevent water intoxication, don't consume more than 34 ounces of water per hour. When working out for extended periods of time, you may want to drink a sports drink that contains electrolytes. If you're wondering how much water you should be getting each day, check out Fit's Calculator.


Join The Conversation
Efbe14766162 Efbe14766162 4 years
problem here is fits calculator takes you to a store
any any 7 years
oops i guess thats why i have been feeling so weird... i have been drink 20 oz of water 4 times a day and then at home like 4 o 5 more glasses... and according to your fit calculator i should only drink like 4.5 glasses, damn!
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
I've noticed that when I drink too much water, I get a bad headache... good to know it can be dangerous.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
I've definitely heard of this.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I remember hearing about that contest... crazy. It was the first time I'd heard about anything like this. The symptoms are so similar to dehydration it's scary. I imagine many people think they are dehydrated only making the hyponatremia worse.
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 8 years
omg yes.... this happened to me on day 3 of ALC (545 mile bike ride for 7 days)... i guzzled too much water and not enough electrolites. the symptoms are very much like dehydration, and i thought i was dehydrated so i drank more water- which obviously made it worse. thanks for posting this, fit. most people know of dehydration more than hyponatremia, and could end up mistaking the symptoms and end up drinking more water like i did.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
So important ! During a marathon or a longer tri (or a longer training session) I mix water and sports drink (Infinit, Gatorade Endurance, Accelerade) like lydialee :)
Chaoticfury Chaoticfury 8 years
I did a report about this in college. It was the first time my professor ever heard about it.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
It can definitely happen, but it's very rare, especially if you get enough salt in your diet. The time to worry is when you consume a lot of water VERY QUICKLY because that's when you can mess with your kidney function and throw your electrolytes out of balance. If you drink a lot of water slowly throughout the day, you're at a much less risk of hyponatremia.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
I was trying to explain this to a coworker the other day. She did not believe me. I told her that my mom would see this when she worked in ICU, mostly old people would do it. But thank you know I have the name of it and can tell her more about it.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
In the summer when I'm running outside and drinking a lot of water, or before intense classes like Bikram or spin, I put 1/4 tsp of salt under my tongue so that I know I'm getting at least some sodium should I overcompensate. I think I read about it on
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
I have over done it with water and ended up in the hospital. Apparently this human cannot handle 1 gallon of water consumed in 2 hours. I screwed my system up so much - my heartbeat was irregular, my limbs were cramping badly and I was in and out of consciousness. I was dry drowning - vomiting up the excess water and nearly aspirating on it. Extreme heat, access to lots of fresh cold water and wack do not mix. I have been told to not consume more than 10 8 oz glasses of water per day.
hyzenthlay20 hyzenthlay20 8 years
Like, the contest was "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" . . . Or rather, that was the most recent one (and happened in Sacramento, CA).
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
Several boys that have died as a result of this during fraternity hazing. It's scary.
lydialee_home lydialee_home 8 years
I normally alternate with Gatorade and water during marathon. And in hot summer weather, I will take salt tablet to avoid getting too low on my sodium level.
LikeThoseShoes LikeThoseShoes 8 years
a woman died from drinking too much water in a certain amount of time. it was for a contest. i dont remember all of the details though.
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