We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, but what happens when we go a little bit too far? Overhydration is a very real issue, and it can lead to quite a few issues in our bodies. While we want you to stay hydrated and stay on top of your body’s needs, we also want you to know what symptoms to look for when facing a possible case of overhydration.
Overhydration, at its core, is when the sodium and electrolytes in your body become too diluted. This can make your body’s necessary functions more difficult, causing an inability to function. There are two main types of overhydration:
- Increased water intake: This happens when you ingest too much water for your kidneys to process. This may result in too much water gathering in your bloodstream.
- Retaining water: This is usually the result of a medical condition where your body will not eliminate excess fluids and retains them instead.
Either of these situations can be dangerous, and they demand medical attention.
Who Gets Overhydrated?
While it can happen to anyone, overhydration is most common in marathon runners and endurance athletes of any kind. These athletes have a tendency to consume too much water before their event, as well as during. This is why the Institute of Medicine urges most people to stick in between 74-100 ounces of water per day on average. While this number will change depending on the weather, your age, sex, and activity level, it’s a good frame of reference.
Those who suffer from the following medical conditions are also more likely to suffer from overhydration:
- congestive heart failure (CHF)
- liver disease
- kidney problems
- syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- uncontrolled diabetes
What are the Symptoms?
While the earlier symptoms are harder to detect, you may notice some of the more advanced ones. Seek medical attention immediately if you find that you or someone else has a severe headache, nausea and vomiting, or confusion. Some of the more advanced symptoms can include seizures, a coma, unconsciousness, or serious muscle spasms and cramping. Unfortunately, cramping is also a symptom of dehydration, so keep in mind how much water you have had to drink that day to determine which one it may be.
How is Overhydration Diagnosed and Treated?
Overhydration is usually diagnosed by the doctor asking about your medical history. There are other illnesses that can cause similar symptoms, so they will need to rule those out ahead of time. Blood and urine tests, along with a physical exam, can help a doctor truly determine if a patient is overhydrated.
Once a person has been diagnosed with overhydration, there are a few possible treatments:
- Reducing the fluid intake of the person
- Instructing the patient to take diuretics in order to increase the amount of urine they produce
- Treating the condition that caused the overhydration
- Stopping any medications that may be leading to overhydration
- Replacing the sodium, in severe cases
How to Prevent Overhydration
There are a few steps you can take to make sure you do not become overhydrated. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners or rowers, should weigh themselves before they compete, as well as afterwards. The difference in weight will determine how much fluid is needed to replenish what was lost during the physical activity. Experts recommend consuming 16 to 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost.
Also, you should consume anywhere from two to four cups of water during an hour of physical exercise. If you will be exercising for much longer than an hour, sports drinks are a great option, too! These contain sugar, potassium, and sodium, all of which are lost while we sweat. Also, let your thirst guide you as you exercise! When you are feeling thirsty, take a drink. It’s your body’s way of saying that you need to be more hydrated.
Don’t let your fear of overhydration keep you from getting the hydration your body needs! We at Infuze LLC know how important it is to have great tasting water to keep us hydrated as we explore the unknown. Hikers, bicyclists, and other fitness enthusiasts need to prioritize their physical health when on these journeys. Contact us today and shop our water enhancers for natural flavor infusions that will leave your taste buds thrilled!