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Is Drinking Too Much Water Bad for the Body?

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We often hear medical professionals telling us to down at least eight glasses of water a day. However, after years of research, evidence shows that this advice may have only been a health guideline and does not support a scientific basis at all!

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) health issue entitled, “Water Quality Monitoring”, it indicates the amount of water to be consumed is dependent on the quality and quantity demands of each individual.

The amount of water needed by the body depends
on the type of activities performed.

 

When To Drink More Water & When Is It Too Much

Fluid loss is experienced in a variety of ways through

  • evaporation
  • breathing
  • urine
  • sweating

This is why replacement of such fluids during these activities is essential for the body to function properly, thus drinking less water as needed may do more harm.

It makes sense right?

So can you drink too much water? Short answer is yes. When you increase your intake of water unnecessarily (and I mean a lot), your body cannot process the inflow and you will suffer from what is commonly termed, water intoxication. This is especially true and mostly seen in infants under six months and in athletes. For young adults, it is unlikely for them to suffer from water intoxication because the kidneys can process 15 litres of water every day. This volume is more than what most regular adults can actually consume in a day, but one can only try.

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What Is Water Intoxication

The Journal of Clinical Pathology explore in one of their reports a case of a 64-year-old woman who had a severe heart condition caused by deterioration of the valves. Her medical reports indicated that on the night before her death, she began to drink water on impulse, about 30-40 glasses. Later that evening she became hysterical, had episodes of vomiting and nausea. She fell asleep and never woke up. After her body was assessed it indicated a case of water intoxication.

Water intoxication is when the body has a rapid intake of water which causes a disturbance in the electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are the electrical charged chemicals that allow your cells to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. If this is unbalanced your body functions suffer.

There is only so much water that the kidneys can process, thus rapid intake of water in short intervals may damage its filtering functions.

Initial symptoms of intoxication are hallucination and confusion.
In severe cases, seizures, comas and death.

Immediate medical attention should be administered if you or someone else may be suspected of suffering from Water intoxication.

How Much Water Should Be Consumed in a Day?

Listen to your thirst, drink to satisfy your thirst. Our need for water is very dependent of the kinds of activities we do every day. Activities that let you sweat and consume more energy will need to be replaced with equal amounts of water. According to Kidney Health Australia, the 8-glass rule does not necessarily apply to all. However daily fluid intake should be increased during periods of strenuous exercise, when undergoing medical treatment where fluid intake is necessary, and people living in hot climates.

 


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