Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal is an internist practicing in New Port Richey, FL. Dr. Dhaliwal specializes in the medical treatment of adults. Internists can act as a primary physician or a consultant to a primary physician. They manage both common and rare diseases. Dr. Dhaliwal provides comprehensive care and manages treatment... more
Almost all of the major systems of your body depend on water to work properly. Drinking plenty of water helps your body regulate body temperature, prevent constipation, flush waste products out of the body, and perform many other important functions.
Most people, especially those who exercise in hot weather, are more concerned about not drinking enough water. However, overhydration, or drinking too much water, is also a potentially deadly condition. It can throw off the balance between water and sodium in your blood.
Overhydration is most commonly caused by drinking too much water. This can occur both consciously and unconsciously. For example, a person may drink too much water during exercise. Some medications can also cause dry mouth and an increase in thirst. Increased thirst can also be caused by uncontrolled diabetes. Psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia can also cause compulsive water drinking.
Overhydration can also be caused by water retention, often the result of medical conditions, such as: liver disease, kidney problems, congestive heart failure or SIADH.
You may not recognize symptoms of overhydration in the early stages. Common symptoms include: nausea and vomiting, headache, changes in mental state such as confusion or disorientation.
Untreated overhydration can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium in the blood. This can cause more severe symptoms, such as: muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps, seizures, unconsciousness or coma.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history to determine whether symptoms are caused by overhydration or another condition. They will also perform a physical examination, and they may order blood and urine tests.
Treatment for overhydration depends on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying reason. It may include: cutting back on your fluid and salt intake, diuretics to increase how much urine is produced, medications to reduce symptoms such as nausea, seizures, and headache, and treatment of underlying medical conditions.
Endurance athletes can reduce the risk of overhydration by weighing themselves before and after a race. This helps determine how much water they have lost and need to replenish. Sports beverages that contain the electrolytes sodium and potassium are also recommended, as both are lost in sweat.
If you have an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, or kidney problems, talk to your doctor about the best treatments for those conditions. If you have excessive thirst, contact your doctor. This could indicate a medical problem that requires treatment.
Amount of Daily Fluid Intake:
Daily fluid intake depends on physical work; a roofer or long distance runner may need to drink more fluids than a person who is sitting or working inside an air-conditioned room.
The best indicator of daily requirement of fluids is frequency of urination. An average male urinates 3 times a day, one time before going to bed and one time on getting up in the morning, never during the night. An average female urinates 4 to 5 times a day, one time before going to bed and one time on getting up in the morning, never during the night.
If you are dehydrated, your body will conserve water and you will not urinate. On the other side if you are consuming too much fluids and urinating more frequently, along with waste products, you are losing your essential body electrolytes and minerals. Most often 4 glasses of fluids are enough for most people. Remember: "Excess of everything or anything is bad."