Almost every fitness book or a health club preaches one thing, "Drink lot of water". This is an open ended statement as each of our bodies is different and the requirement also differs. Another question that comes to our mind is how much water to drink and whether we can drink too much of water.
Everyday Chemistry - Can you drink too much water?
"Drink lots of water" that`s the kind of statement you hear all the time from fitness books and health clubs. However, a wise man had once said that what looks tempting from a distance might turn out to be otherwise in close proximity. And this brings us to the age-old question of 'how much water is too much after all?' Although there are excellent reasons for drinking water we just think there are few things you must know before embarking upon downing gallons of it.
Drinking too much of water can lead to a condition known as water intoxication and hyponatremia. They occur when a dehydrated person drinks too much of water without the accompanying electrolytes.
Water Intoxication - How does it occur?
Seen mostly in infants and sometimes in athletes, water intoxication occurs when tissue swells due to the presence of too much of water in our body cells. Our cells maintain a specific concentration gradient and hence excess water outside the cells, also known as the serum, draws sodium from within the cells to re-establish the necessary concentration. As more water accumulates, the serum sodium concentration drops and leads to a condition known as hyponatremia.
The cells then try to regain the electrolyte balance by a process known as osmosis. In this process, the electrolytes concentrated inside the cell, along with the water, try to move across the semipermeable cell membrane in order to balance the concentration. This could lead the cells to swell and also to the point of bursting. Swelling puts pressure on the brain and nerves, which can cause behavioural patterns resembling that of alcohol intoxication. Swelling of the brain tissues can cause seizures, coma and ultimately death unless water intake is restricted and a hypertonic saline (salt) solution is administered. It can also lead to irregular heartbeat, thereby allowing the fluid to enter the lungs, causing fluttering of eyelids.
So, it`s safe to stick by the count of 8-12 ounce glasses of water a day. You may need more water if the weather is very warm or very dry or if you are exercising or if you are taking certain medications. But yes, although uncommon unless you are an infant or an athlete, it certainly is possible to drink too much water!