What are the Consequences of Drinking Too Much Water?
January 28, 2019
Water is an essential part of our life. We cannot survive without drinking water. Every cell present in our body requires water in order to function. When we don’t drink enough water, we end up becoming dehydrated. But, have you ever considered what would happen if you drink too much water?
What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?
What if you are being told that there could be dire consequences if you drink too much water. Just like severe dehydration can be life-threatening, drinking too much water or overhydration can be equally damaging. It has been scientifically proved that drinking too much water or overhydration can be as dangerous as any poison.
Our kidneys perform the function of filtering out the excess waste and water from our bloodstream. However, they can only process 800 to 1000 millimeters of water an hour, and if you somehow managed to drink more than that without throwing up you can land into trouble because you are drinking faster and much more than your kidneys can process it.
So what happens when you drink too much water than your kidneys can handle it? The excess amount of water ends up in your cells.
Too Much Water Causes Intoxication
Under normal circumstances, your cells are encircled by a carefully balanced solution of sodium and water, which flows in and out through the tiny holes present in the cellular membrane. This keeps the sodium concentration, both in and out of the cell, well balanced.
The problem arises when the sodium solution becomes diluted because of drinking too much water. The sodium solution does not remain salty enough when you drink too much water. What happens next is, some of the excess water rushes into the cell to restore the balance. This causes the cell to swell up. Doctors call this phenomenon, ‘water intoxication,’ and it’s considered quite a big problem.
Now, most of our cells are capable of handling the swelling to a certain degree. Soft, flexible tissue such as fat and muscle can easily stretch. But, for the cells in our brain, it’s another story, because our skull is not stretchy at all. Our skull is a bone – it’s hard, just like a rock. So, as your brain begins to swell, it builds up a pressure in your head.
Severe Consequences of Drinking Too Much Water
When there is an excess of water in your brain, it begins to swell up, and that may lead to several severe problems. At first, you might tend to have headaches, confusion, or even drowsiness but as the pressure increases, you may face some serious consequences such as brain damage, coma or even death. All it could take a person to be over in just ten hours.
For instance, a sixty-four-year-old woman died the same evening after drinking around 30-40 glasses of water. On the other hand, a group of US Army trainees suffered severe vomiting and seizures after downing over two liters per hour after a tough day of training.
However, it is the marathon runners who need to be especially careful when it comes to drinking too much water. A recent study has found out that one in six marathon runners develop at least mild water intoxication, because the constant race puts stress on their body, including the kidneys. Consequently, they don’t excrete water as efficiently, which can cause water to back up into the blood more easily.
The problem does not only apply to the water. For example, the same thing can happen to your body if you down too much beer at once. This is known as potomania. The good news is, the severe water intoxication is rare and is more likely to happen in people who have kidney issues since they can’t process water probably, to begin with.
Plus, there is always an easy way to stay safe. A normal adult needs to drink around three to four liters of water every day. This amount can easily be derived from food as well as other drinks. More important, drink whenever you feel thirsty and then stop yourself.