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Over Hydration: Why Water Can be Bad For You

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Drinking water is good for the body.

Sometimes we get overzealous in trying to achieve our goals faster with water therapy or maybe the body turns out to be incapable of handling it all, leading to over hydration

It goes by many names; Water intoxication, Hyponatremia, hyper hydration, water poisoning, water toxemia and over hydration.

Whatever it goes by, it simply means a disturbance in the balance of salt and electrolytes in the body by excessive water intake

Most times, this could be as a result of engaging in exercises or water contests that make one consume a lot of it.

It could also be as a result of a torture technique where victim is forced to consume excessive amounts water at a time

This just goes to say that in as much as water can help one be productive, there could also be a downside to it all. After all, there is a popular saying that goes “too much of everything is bad”

Forms of Over Hydration

Over hydration causes take two forms

  • Increased water intake whereby one drinks way too much water than the kidney can handle
  • Retaining water whereby the body can’t get rid of water properly.

Conditions That Make The Body Hold on to More Fluid

These are a few reasons the body cannot get rid of water either by increased water intake or its retention

- Congestive heart failure

- Liver disease

- Kidney problems

- Uncontrolled diabetes

- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

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- Schizophrenia

- MDMA (also known as ecstasy) : This drug makes a taker more thirsty and at the same time retaining urine, making the body have more water than required

- Diuretics


It might be unnoticeable at the beginning but later, it begins to show

- Headache

- Changes in mental state such as disorientation

- Nausea

- Thirst

- Seizures

- Coma

- Muscle weakness, cramps or spasms

- Increase in intracranial pressure

- Difficulty in breathing

- Lethargy

- Increase in the level of urine release


Risk Factors of Over Hydration

Over hydration has been found to affect mostly athletes as they consume water to boost their energy levels, but there are others who are at risk as well

- Sportsmen and women such as hikers, marathon runners, triathletes, rugby players, military members in training as well as endurance cycling

- People with health conditions such as heart failure or kidney problems

- Low body mass in other words, babies. While it is easier to absorb the water, getting rid of it could be a problem

- Heat stress or humid climates can leave your throat feeling quite dry, the move to rehydrate could be in excess due to the thought that the body would store up for later

- Latrogenic. For those who are fed intravenously or through a nasogastric tube, water intake could be in excess as one doesn’t actually feel the water satisfy the thirst but much rather just sees it go in

- Mental health condition known as psychogenic polydipsia also known as compulsive water drinking. It is mostly found in schizophrenia patients as well as people with psychosis or personality disorders


Prevention and Treatment

- Seeking for a diagnosis from a doctor before commencing water therapy or after consuming large amounts of water

- Cutting back on fluid intake

- Taking diuretics to help body release water even better in cases of water retention

- Treating a health condition that could cause over hydration

- Avoiding alcoholic drinks and drugs such as MDMA that could trigger over hydration

- Replacing body sodium with a synthetic one if need be as well as electrolytes by taking energy drinks. Fruits, vegetables such as kale as well as salted peanut butter, milk, coconut water, nuts, meat can also do just right

- Replacing excess water with sport beverages for sports men and women

- The kidneys cannot remove more than 1 liter of water from the body per hour so drinking above this amount can be harmful

- Taking medications for nausea and seizures

- Checking urine color in order to report to a doctor when it is clear as it could mean you are at risk

- Some neurological and psychiatric medications have been found to cause over hydration in patients. So one should confirm with doctors or health care providers just to be sure

- Reducing stress levels as this could quite hamper the processing power of the kidneys

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