Take the right dose country there are countless benefits. From relieving constipation to preventing UTIs to maintaining fluid balance in the body, nearly all health professionals recommend drinking the required 8-10 glasses of water per day for good health. Some people tend to take this most convenient advice too seriously and drink lots of water throughout the day in the hope of losing weight quickly or detoxing the liver. But is excess water really helpful, or in rare cases can it be deadly? (Also read: 5 benefits of munakka water for the gut)
Dr Sudhir Kumar, Senior Consultant Neurologist, Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad recently tweeted about the dangers of excess water including death and other serious health problems. When you drink more water than you need, it can upset the balance of electrolytes and drop sodium to dangerously low levels. It is called water intoxication and can cause symptoms such as confusion, nausea and vomiting in mild cases and coma, convulsions and death in severe cases.
Dr. Sudhir Kumar wrote on Twitter: “Water is lifesaving and essential for survival. However, drinking too much water, especially in a short period of time, can lead to serious health risks, including including death”.
Dr Kumar said while the normal need for water is 2.5 to 3 liters per day, there is a misconception that drinking more water is good for health.
“Some people may drink more water due to mental illness. Athletes may overestimate water loss and drink too much,” the expert wrote on Twitter.
Too much water can upset the balance of sodium and water in the blood. “Drinking the right amount of water is just as important as eating the right food or getting a good night’s sleep,” says Shetty.
“Rehydration is very important and not drinking water can lead to various complications. However, did you know that drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication. This condition occurs when salts and substances are present. Other electrolytes in your body are diluted and the kidneys can’t get rid of them. All water is eliminated in the urine,” Smitha Shetty, Lifestyle Nutritionist previously told HT Digital.
Shetty adds: “Too much water can upset the balance of sodium and water in the blood. Drinking enough water is just as important as eating right or sleeping well.”
How much water can a healthy person handle?
Explaining the ideal amount of water a person should drink, Dr. Kumar said “healthy kidneys can handle 800-1000 ml of water/hour. People with kidney, heart or liver disease can handle very little water. If excess water happens quickly (more than 1-2 hours), normal kidneys cannot handle it.”
Consequences of drinking too much water
Dr. Kumar said drinking too much water leads to hyponatremia, which is low sodium levels in the blood. He added that this leads to water entering the brain cells, leading to brain swelling, and the symptoms depend on the sodium level and the degree of brain swelling.
Symptoms of water poisoning
– Mild cases with lethargy, nausea and dizziness
In moderate cases, symptoms are confusion, vomiting, and agitation.
– Severe cases have symptoms of convulsions, coma and death.
What is the treatment for water poisoning?
Dr. Kumar said if you notice any of these symptoms, you must visit your doctor and have your sodium levels checked.
He adds: “Low sodium levels are corrected by limiting fluid intake and injecting saline. Rapid correction of low sodium intake should be avoided as that can lead to brain damage.”