While most people have heard the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day, there is some flexibility and people are capable of drinking too much and too little, although the latter is more common.
Drinking too little can lead to dehydration, which can cause a variety of symptoms, from dizziness to, in some extreme cases, death. Drinking too much also has potentially dangerous impacts because too much water in the body affects the body's electrolyte balance, the experts said. They shared tips on how much a person should drink and the signs that someone has had too much water, and whether there is the right balance for the average water drinker.
How much water should be drunk in a day?
While eight glasses of water is a good rule of thumb when it comes to how much to drink, people also get fluid from the food they eat and from other beverages. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food. Between water, other drinks and food, adult men living in temperate climates need to drink about 15.5 glasses of fluids a day, according to the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Adult women living in In temperate climates, with average annual temperatures that are not extreme, they need to drink about 11.5 glasses of fluids per day. Women should drink more in a day if they are menstruating, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
The amount of water also varies depending on the weather and the time of year. On a hot day, much of the fluid someone ingests is sweated out as the body tries to cool down. The average person has 2.6 million sweat glands and when a person sweats, they lose water and electrolytes.
Drinking enough water and having enough electrolytes keeps the body working properly. Dehydration can cause dizziness, confusion, fatigue, and extreme thirst. It can lead to more serious symptoms such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, seizures, or kidney failure.
Can you drink too much?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people not to drink more than 48 ounces, or six cups, per hour. Too much water or other liquids, such as sports drinks, can cause a medical emergency because the salt concentration in the blood is too low.
When this happens, body water levels rise and cells swell as your body tries to regulate electrolyte concentrations, which can cause health problems, said Dr. Mahesh Polavarapu, the emergency department's medical director. of New York-Presbyterian Westchester.
“If you have too much water, you will basically push that water into the cells to balance the concentrations of sodium and other electrolytes,” Polavarapu said. "So when that happens, cells in your brain and other cells in your body start to swell."
Drinking too much is not a common problem and the average healthy adult should focus on hydration, health experts told CBS.
“This is not something you should worry about, you should drink as much water as you think is necessary,” Polavarapu said.
Overhydration is seen more often in endurance athletes, people with kidney problems and those taking certain medications that can cause excessive thirst, such as antidepressants and diuretics, the experts said. Older people are also at higher risk due to age-related declines in overall organ function, which can increase a person's vulnerability to overhydration.
What are the signs that you have drunk too much water?
This is where things can get tricky, said Jason Ewoldt, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic. Many of the symptoms of overhydration can be confused with symptoms of dehydration. Both can cause nausea, muscle cramps, and tiredness. There are a few key ways to tell the difference.
"Being aware of thirst and urine color is the easiest way to limit the possibility of overhydration and dehydration," Ewoldt said.
If you are thirsty, you will most likely need to drink more water. Dark yellow urine is also a sign to drink more.
Clear urine is a sign that you may need to control things and drink less.
What can happen if you drink too much water?
Too much water is associated with a condition called hyponatremia, which occurs when the concentration of salt in the body is too low. Also called “water intoxication.” Drinking large amounts of water in a short period of time upsets the body's electrolyte balance.
When someone drinks excessively, their kidneys may not be able to keep up and excrete the excess water.
"If you drink too much pure water, the solutes in your body have to be distributed in extra space and you can have electrolyte disturbances that cause major problems in the brain and you can have seizures," Dr. David Metz, who worked as a professor. of medicine from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, he said.
Other symptoms of hyponatremia may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, altered mental status/confusion, fainting, lethargy, and coma. In some extreme cases, it can lead to death.
In a 2007 incident, Jennifer Strange A 28-year-old mother of three from California, died of acute water intoxication after participating in a water drinking contest. A radio station challenged participants to see who could drink the most water without using the toilet. At the time of the incident, one of Strange's co-workers said the victim "told one of our supervisors that she was on her way home and that her head hurt like hell... She was crying and that was the last thing anyone had." ». heard of her.”
An American football player A 17-year-old died in 2014 in Georgia after drinking two gallons of water and another two gallons of Gatorade during practice.
How should you drink water safely in hot weather?
drink before you feel thirsty , the CDC recommends. If you are working outside in the heat, drink about 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. This translates to three quarters to one quarter (24-32 ounces) per hour. Drinking more frequently is more effective for hydration than drinking large amounts infrequently.
"People think that thirst is what drives them to drink water, thirst is almost a later sign of dehydration, so don't try to wait for that to happen," Polavarapu said.
While drinking water is important to replace water lost through sweat, it's also important to eat regular meals to replace salt lost in sweat and maintain electrolyte balance, according to the CDC.