Health professionals are constantly encouraging us to drink enough water to prevent dehydration. It is a fact that in hot weather or perhaps whilst carrying out any physical activities we tend to sweat a lot more than usual. As a result, our bodies need to take in more fluids in order to compensate for the losses that our bodies may suffer. In addition, individuals with a more physically demanding job may often require additional levels of liquid should they have a tendency to sweat a great deal.
So How Much is Too Much?
Experts generally suggest that we consume around 6-8 glasses of water every day. As a guideline, the Food Standards Agency recommends that those of us who live in the UK should drink around 1.2 litres of fluid each day which roughly equates to the above figure that is often quoted. In addition, we are advised to take more liquids on board in warmer weather or if we are the type of person who is very active. In fact, the World Health Organisation goes even further and recommends that men should aim for 2.5 litres daily with women looking to consume 2.2 litres a day.
On average, the kidneys can flush out around 1 litre of water per hour. Drinking more than this can result in what is called ‘water intoxication’, which is a potentially fatal condition. Therefore you should never try and drink more than this within a one-hour timeframe.
So What Exactly is Water Intoxication?
Water intoxication is also referred to as water poisoning or hyperhydration. Normally, accidentally consuming too much water is exceptionally rare and generally affects those individuals who consume large amounts of water after longer bouts of exercise. For example, those individuals who play sports or do high-intensity exercise should drink only when thirsty and not “pre-load” with fluids say the experts. Flooding your body with a liquid, even sports drinks could cause a life-threatening condition.Water intoxication mostly occurs when water is being consumed in volume without adequate electrolyte intake. The large amounts of water upset the normal balance of electrolytes in the body such as sodium for example. For our body to function correctly the concentration of these electrolytes
Water intoxication mostly occurs when water is being consumed in volume without adequate electrolyte intake. The large amounts of water upset the normal balance of electrolytes in the body such as sodium. For our body to function correctly the concentration of these electrolytes is held within strict limits. Whereby, should we drink more water than advised our body effectively gets rid of the excess through our urine. Should we consume water into our bodies at a quicker rate than it can be taken out, the electrolytes in our blood become diluted. When this happens, drinking water passes from the bloodstream into the cells and organs such as the brain, causing them to swell, which not only affects their normal ability to function but is extremely dangerous.
Water Intoxication in Babies
Giving water to a baby in large amounts can lead to oral water intoxication, a condition in which the electrolytes (such as sodium) in a baby’s bloodstream become diluted. This inhibits the normal bodily functions and leads to life-threatening problems such as low body temperature or seizures.
What are the Symptoms of Drinking Too Much Water?
Symptoms can vary from vomiting, headaches or general feeling unwell. In fact, symptoms are very similar to those associated with dehydration. Worryingly, should the individual be left untreated the ramifications can be catastrophic, whereby a person can have a seizure, coma or even death and all within a few hours.
Have People Ever Died Drinking Too Much Water?
Researchers carried out a report which was picked up by the Daily Mirror newspaper in June 2015 whereby as many as 14 people had died as a result of drinking too much water whilst playing a sport. The unfortunate victims of water intoxication included marathon runners and football players and also surprisingly included individuals playing lawn green bowling and doing yoga.