Overhydration: Dangers of Drinking Excess Water, Signs, Treatment, Prevention

“The excess of pleasure is pain!” Have you heard this quote from Almeida Garret? Yes! It tells about how dangerous it can be to have anything good in excess. Coming to a most important element, i.e. the water; we all have heard from our childhood to take plenty of water all throughout the day and keep body hydrated so as to keep a good health. It is for sure very much true that water helps greatly in regulating the body temperature, in preventing from constipation, clearing out the wastes from body and has got various other important functions in the body. However, excess of water or Overhydration can cause some real serious issues in the body which can be highly dangerous to health and life. There is a reduction in sodium level of the blood with excessive water content in the body. This article will put some limelight on overhydration and will talk about the dangers of excessive water in the body. We will also note down some of the important ways to prevent overhydration.


Types of Overhydration:

Overhydration can be of two types; i.e. overhydration due to increased water intake and overhydration due to retaining water. Let us see them below.

  1. Increased water intake: Drinking of a lot of water causes overhydration. Too much of water gets collected in the body when you drink more than enough of water as required or more than the level kidneys can get rid of it in urine.
  2. Retaining water: In case of certain medical conditions or diseases, the body shows a symptom where it is unable to remove the excess of water out and it is said to cause overydration due to retaining water. This condition can be extremely dangerous as it disturbs the balance between water and sodium in the blood.

What Causes Overhydration?

What Causes Overhydration?, Infographic

Earlier we looked upon the two types of overhydration, i.e. overhydration caused due to excessive drinking of water and overhydration due to retaining water. We must note down that Psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia can also cause compulsive water drinking which might lead to overhydration. Apart from this, persons involved with workouts and exercises usually feel more thirsty and drink a lot of water, especially during the summer days.

Now, having a list of the various condition which causes the water retention in the body leading to overhydration and its symptoms; here we come up with the below list of medical conditions.

  1. Congestive heart failure
  2. Kidney problems
  3. Cirrhosis or liver disease
  4. SIADH or Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone.

What Are The Dangers Caused Due to Drinking Excess Water or Overhydration?

“As soon as there is a life, there is danger!” Here we will be talking about the dangers of drinking excess water or overhydration to the human health.

  • You start feeling nausea and vomiting
  • Headache is experienced with overhydration
  • There are changes seen in mental state, like one experiences confusion around.
  • Once overhydration and its symptoms are left untreated for long it leads to the most dangerous medical condition known as hyponatremia where the sodium level in the blood dangerously lowers down due to excessive water inside. This can further lead to severe symptoms like muscle weakness, cramps etc, unconsciousness, seizures, coma etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Overhydration:

Below listed are some of the most common signs and symptoms of Overhydration.

  • Brain being the most susceptible organ to overhydration, there is a clear symptom of change in behavior with overhydration. You might feel drowsy, confused, inattentive and also you might feel very much irritated. Shouting is also one of the first signs of overhdyration.
  • Muscle cramps, eye twitching, blurred or double vision etc are also some of the symptoms in Overhydration
  • One side of the body may also meet with paralysis, there may also be lack of proper co-ordination in Overhdyrated condition
  • The patient might experience a sudden weight loss or weight gain, weakness.
  • Vomiting, nausea, rapid breathing are some of the common symptoms in Overhdyration.
  • Blood pressure also gets high at times in overhydrated condition.
  • Some other symptoms of Overhydration includes, hemorrhage, anemia, acidosis or the condition where the body and blood tissues have an abnormally high acid content, cyanosis or the condition occurring when there is a sudden fall of the oxygen levels in the blood.
  • The patient might also show some severe symptoms like seizures and reach even the Coma state with overhydration if not treated on time.

A Brief Note on Hyponatremia:

Hyponatremia is also known as water intoxication or water poisoning or also known as dilutional hyponatremia. This is actually a medical condition which is a highly fatal disturbance in the brain function that leads when there is a disturbance in the normal balance of the sodium in the body due to overhydration or excessive water in the body. In this condition the body’s stores of sodium are extremely low in the blood. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, weak muscles etc are seen in Hyponatremia. The patient might also grow symptoms of confusion, restlessness, agitation, seizures, coma etc in this medical condition. There can also be the patient’s death in Hyponatremia. In case you are meeting with any such symptoms that are identical to that of the symptoms of hyponatremia, make sure you are making a doctor’s visit immediately. Let your doctor diagnose the condition and prescribe the essential treatments for your condition in early stage before it gets life-threatening.

Treatment Options for Overhydration

Treatment Options for Overhydration:

Won’t you like to know about some ways to treat the overhydrated condition? So check them out below and help you get rid of excess water from your body to prevent the dangers.

  • You can cut short the fluid intake and take enough of salt intake to get the balance of sodium salt back in the blood
  • Diuretics to be used so as to increase how much urine in produced.
  • You must take the essential and most effective medications so as to reduce the common symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, seizures etc.
  • Make sure you are visiting your doctor and undergoing the prescribed treatment for underlying medical conditions. This will help you reduce the condition of retaining water and treat overhydration and its symptoms easily.

How To Prevent Overhydration?

Let us point out some of the most crucial ways to prevent overhydration.

  • Weigh Yourself Everyday for a Week to Check Hydration: You can check out your body weight everyday for a week and you must make sure your weight doesn’t fluctuate too much. This will help you identify if you have proper water amount inside or going more than the required water level in your body.
  • Aim at waking up feeling hydrated: Intend that even if you feel thirsty soon you wake up from the bed in the morning, you are not taking excessive water or fluids. Feel hydrated enough to not bother taking more fluids immediately after bed.
  • Notice the Amount you Pee and Clearly Observe its Color In the Morning After Bed: Make sure the urine looks pale or clear in color and it must be in copious amount.
    In case you are an endurance athlete or a workout personality then look for the sports drinks which has lower sugar content: It is obvious you must be taking sports drinks while or after performing your athletic acts or workouts. Make sure you have chosen the sports drink with low sugar content.
  • Make a Check on How Much Tea, Coffee Etc you Drink During the Day, Because This Also Adds to the Fluid Intake: You must remember that tea and coffee also adds to the amount on water intake. So make a check on how much tea/coffee you drink in a day so as to prevent overhydration.
  • Add a Low-Carb Electrolyte Drink to Your Daily Fluid Intake: It is important to take a low carb electrolyte drink like a cup of hot tea along with a pinch of salt and lemon during the afternoon hours. This helps in increasing the core body temperature and the little amount of salt can aid you in absorbing fluids.
  • Make sure you are not drinking more than one litre of fluid per hour.
  • Talk to your doctor and undergo the necessary treatments in case you are with any of the underlying medical conditions which might lead to overhydration.


There is a known saying, “Don’t think there is no danger because the water is calm.” Water is for sure the purest form of fluid one can drink every day for keeping a good health condition. However drinking more of it can lead to a condition you might not have expected off. So, have a check on your daily water intake, make sure you are following the essential measures to prevent overhydration and take essential treatments for the underlying causes of overhydration and prevent self from the dangers of excessive water in the body.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 30, 2019

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