Q: With summer here, I am often being told to up my water intake. Is it possible to be consuming more water than needed?
A: With the summer heat upon us, it is normal to constantly quench your thirst. But if you are constantly refilling your bottle of water, you may be consuming too much of it. Many health journals have reported that constantly adding water to the body could result in low sodium levels and cause cells to swell. Water intoxication or hyponatremia occurs when you drink excessive water at a rate faster than the kidneys can process it, causing the water to end up in your cells. While the body's cells are designed to handle swelling to a degree, the brain's cells are not and can cause pressure to build up in your head.
Some symptoms of overhydration can include breathlessness, headaches, hypertension, confusion, fatigue, or drowsiness. In severe instances, it could lead to brain damage or coma. Therefore, even though relatively rare, drinking too much water could potentially be life-threatening.
Another sign of overhydration could be if the number of trips to the bathroom to urinate has increased, compared to more than the standard six to eight times a day. However, going up to 10 times is considered normal for those who regularly drink caffeine or exercise. Also, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and weak muscles that cramp easily are other signs to look out for.
There is no single formula to knowing how much water you should drink daily. The general advice on eight cups or three to four litres a day varies from person to person. But it is normal to guzzle extra amounts of water, for instance, after an intense workout, during pregnancy when it’s essential to stay hydrated or when one is facing diarrhoea.
If you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colourless or light yellow, you are drinking the right amount. But if the urine colour changes from light to dark, you would need to increase your intake.
In a scenario where you are plagued by any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult your doctor at the earliest who can help you determine the amount of water that is right for you.
Riyaz Badami is a homeopathic practitioner and medical director of Good Living Medical Center, Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.