Why Drinking Too Much Water Is Dangerous

Why Drinking Too Much Water Is Dangerous
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Drinking enough water can help your body circulate nutrients, flush fat, control calorie intake, balance body fluids, stimulate muscle energy, encourage healthy digestion and countless other benefits. You can read my previous articles about the benefits of flavored water for detox and weight loss, as well as the many health benefits of drinking lemon water. But drinking too much water can lead to seizures, comas, brainstem herniation and death.

So where is the middle ground here? Not enough water is deadly, but at the same time too much water can kill you. There have been multiple water chugging deaths linked to radio contests and fraternity hazing in recent years. Endurance athletes are also seen overdoing water consumption and ending up in a potentially fatal scenario.


Why Drinking Too Much Water Can be Harmful for Health

For years it’s been untested knowledge that people benefit from drinking several cups of water daily. Now that people are becoming more health conscious, the dangers of over consumption are becoming more apparent. When you consume more water than your body needs, the excess can lead to an increased blood volume. This puts a strain on your circulatory system and can be dangerous if the amounts continue to rise.

You should also consider the kidneys, which have to deal with filtering all the extra water you’ve consumed. Contrary to what many people believe, water doesn’t simply clean out the kidneys. As a matter of fact, if you drink too much, you can overload the glomeruli, which are essentially the main filters within your system.

The root of concern in water consumption when it comes to lethal potential is hyponatremia. This occurs when your bloodstream sodium levels lower to an unhealthy level. It can be  because of a personal medical condition, but excess water consumption also leads to it. At low levels the condition is harmless. If your kidneys cannot keep up with excess water intake, the extra water will dilute the concentration of sodium. As this happens, cells begin to stretch and things become potentially deadly.


Cells can normally expand with relative ease. Unfortunately the neurons in your brain cannot. Your brain cells work in an extremely confined space and have little room for swelling. If this happens from drinking too much water, it could result in a coma, seizure or even death.

Being Safe With Water Consumption

The first step in safer water consumption is identifying your risk factors for water intoxication:

  • People with relatively lower body masses should be wary, especially young children. With a smaller body comes a more easily diluted bloodstream.
  • If you play endurance sports be careful. Many people are overcautious about dehydration during marathons and guzzle as much water as possible. Consequently, it’s not uncommon to see runners being sidelined with symptoms of over-hydration.
  • Any activities that occur in a hot environment and/or with a lot of sweating involved can increase the risk of water intoxication. When you sweat out sodium you should replace the fluids lost with something containing electrolytes to stay safe.

How You Can Identify Water Intoxication

There are several ways to identify a person with water intoxication. First and foremost, the person must obviously have been in contact with a large amount of fluid, it doesn’t have to be just water.

  • They often experience considerable headaches and are in a state of confusion.
  • The ability to focus and respond to questions is often sluggish.
  • Depleted energy and increased irritability are also signs of water intoxication.
  • A victim might experience feelings of weakness and cramps and spasms in random muscles.
  • In serious cases there may be an induced seizure or coma.

If you or somebody you know exhibits any of the above mentioned symptoms, there are a few treatment measures that can help:

  • The first thing to do is restrict any future fluid consumption.
  • Certain diuretics can force urination if necessary.
  • If the symptoms are beyond mild, medical attention should be sought immediately.
  • There are medical instruments and procedures that are necessary for the most severe cases.

How Much Water You Should Drink

Of course the most effective way to treat water intoxication is to prevent it altogether. To do this, you can use a simple process to estimate a healthy range of daily water consumption.


First you should take into consideration your overall mass. A person that is heavier than someone else has more mass to hydrate, so they need to drink more water. A commonly recommended equation is dividing total body weight in pounds by two-thirds. For example, a person that weighs 100 pounds would need approximately 67 ounces of water each day (100x(⅔)=67).

You can make it easier to remember if you divide the number by 8 (depending on your drinkware size in ounces, here it’s according to nearly 8.5 oz per glass) to find the number of glasses you should consume.

Here is a complete example:

  • Lets assume that your weight is 100 pounds
  • Multiply your weight by ⅔ and the result is 66.6 (you need to drink 66.66 ounces of water a day)
  • Find the number of glasses you need to drink by dividing the previous number by 8 – the result of this example is 8.3 glasses of water

Don’t forget to take your activity level into consideration. People that work out on a regular basis or have a physically demanding job sweat more and require more water. The average recommendation is an additional 12 ounces of water for every half hour of physical exertion. Drinking the water during the activity is ideal, provided you don’t binge a large amount without electrolytes.

Keep in mind that these numbers aren’t incredibly strict. You can veer a bit from your allotted water intake if you feel thirsty. It’s easy to keep yourself from consuming too much if you’re mindful of water intoxication’s possibility. Just remember to not go overboard with it and you’ll be safe.

The importance of water is featured in my e-book about superfoods and how they can improve your health, which is part of my Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition and weight loss goals. You may also want to use water to flush fat – as simple as it may sound, water could be the answer to your fat storage problems. Get more information in:

Fat Flush Water Recipes To Melt Your Fat

[1] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water?page=2
[2] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill/
[3] http://drbenkim.com/drink-too-much-water-dangerous.html
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13 Responses to Why Drinking Too Much Water Is Dangerous

  1. Job Kalima says:

    This information about over consumption of water has come at the right time for me I normally used to over drink especially during physical exercise in the gym and I used to feel a sharp pain in my head for short periods of time. Now I understand what was causing that it was over consumption of water because I could take about 3-4litres of water. Thank you for the article

  2. Lloyd Taylor says:

    ” If your kidneys cannot keep up with excess water intake, the extra water will seep into the bloodstream and dilute the concentration of sodium.”
    This is not how the kidneys function at all. Extra water doesn’t “seep” back into the bloodstream. The Loop of Henle ensures that a normal person reabsorbs sodium from the urine back into the bloodstream. It also creates an unusual concentration gradient to ensure that the proper amount of ions (sodium, potassium, calcium, etc.) are reabsorbed. It is silly to say that extra water “seeps” back into the bloodstream. The only time that The Loop of Henle allows water to be reabsorbed into the blood is in cases of dehydration.

    Good article, although the amount of water one would have to drink to cause hyponatremia would be an amazing amount of water in a very short period of time, not over the course of a day. The kidneys can filter 180 liters of water a day.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Lloyd, when it says seeps into the bloodstream it means that if you force large amounts of water into your system over a short period of time, your kidneys will struggle to eliminate enough water from your system to keep the overall amount at a safe level. I’ve removed the word “seep” to make it clearer. My article is here to warn people not to drink too much water as there have been several deaths related to drinking too much water and this is a fact.

  3. Ross says:

    Thanks for this information. I am on a Paleo diet and have to avoid sugar on all levels plus processed stuff. What is water with ‘electrolytes’ because I cannot drink sports drink or liquids like that besides plain water?

  4. millie koroi says:

    Thank’s for the Infor,I used to take 3or4 bottles of water early in the morning 500ml and during the day I take 1or2 more..So can anyone let me know is that OK or too much I took a day?????Thanks everyone…

  5. Sally Cantu says:

    I’m nearly 48 yo now. I’ve been intoxicating myself with water ALL my life unless treated by a prescribed tablet which I’m currently taking called DDAVP (DESMOPRESSIN). When I was a toddler I drank so much water that it scared doctors. It wasn’t until I turned 10 yo that I was sent to a children’s hospital in Galveston Texas for several medical exams. The final test was the Spinal Tap. That test determined my diagnosis. I have Diabetes Insipidus. For 12 years I injected myself every other day with an oily based medicine called Petrisin Tannate in oil. Not sure how it’s spelled. When I turned 22-23 they came up with a nasal spray. & NO longer has to inject myself. If I don’t have my Diabetes Insipidus controlled , I can promise you that I can drink up to 5 gallons within a 12 hour period. It’s frustrating cause my trips to the restroom are near endless! I’ve experienced over the years. That when I’ve Benn hospitalised. Many many registered nurses and certain doctors aren’t familiar with my type of diabetes. That alone can be frustrating. I’d expect everyone in the medical field to know. They always want to pic my finger. Cause they aren’t familiar. Once I almost was injected with insulin cause the RN didn’t read My chat right and didn’t notify her staff. Talk about scary.

    • Jenny says:

      Very interesting – indeed Diabetes insipidus is a rare disorder, and it is not related to the “regular” diabetes (diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2).

  6. Jennifer says:

    I have had issues with low sodium levels along with the headache and other symptoms and have reduced my water consumption. The info I do not find is: are other drinks, like coffee or tea considered part of that water intake for the day?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jennifer, WebMD webside includes coffee and tea as part of water intake: “Coffee and tea also count in your tally. Many used to believe that they were dehydrating, but that myth has been debunked. The diuretic effect does not offset hydration” (http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/healthy-beverages). NHS website talks about water and drinks and says that: “It’s fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet. But it’s important that tea, coffee or other drinks containing caffeine are not your only source of fluid”. As for the alleged dehydrating effect they claim that: “Caffeinated drinks can also make the body produce more urine. Some people are more susceptible to this than others, but it also depends on how much caffeine you have and how often you have it” (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx). I guess the bottom line is that coffee and tea that contain caffeine are part of your daily water intake, but should be consumed in moderation. The preference is to opt for healthier drinks like herbal teas which don’t contain caffeine.

  7. Leatrice says:

    There’s a terrific amount of knoewldge in this article!

  8. Sam says:

    I suspect the formula for water consumption works better for someone who is smaller in frame. I just worked it out, that as someone who weighs 330 pounds, I would have to drink 27 and a bit glasses of water a day (or 6 & 1/2 litres). I would literally have to start drinking from the moment I woke to the moment I went to sleep to be able to drink that much water. I would have to move my life to the bathroom because my kidneys would be flushing so much water I could never get off the toilet. I am flat out drinking 2L of water a day.

  9. jallow says:

    I normally have headache, joins pain and at times feel so tired and weak.. What’s causes it, is it drinking too much water or… I need your help…

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