Does “too much can sometimes be a bad thing” apply to water?
They say it’s smart to take eight glasses of water a day. They say to ditch the soft drinks for a less sugary and arguably blander alternative. They say that water is the good cop in a world of criminal chocolates, chips and sweets. Are you sick? Load up on water. Do you want clearer skin? More water. The sun beating down a little too harshly today? Grab a glass and season the water with some ice.
But come on now. With water just short of literally being shoved down our throats, is it possible to have too much of it?
Surprise! The answer is yes.
Believe it or not, water in extreme amounts can actually be bad for you (kind of like when a cop has too much power—ahem). Say you’ve spent the afternoon under the sun and it’s hours until you get your hands on some h2o; you should be mindful of how much you gulp down.
Too much water in a small amount of time can cause salt or sodium levels in blood to drop way below your doctor’s comfort zone. The resulting condition is called hyponatremia (AKA water intoxication), which can become fatal in extreme cases—there’s another cop metaphor in there, huh?
WTF is hyponatremia and why can it kill me?
There’s a little something in your body called sodium and hyponatremia is the state at which this important little thing becomes diluted. You see, sodium is a necessary electrolyte that helps regulate the amount of water that’s in and around your cells. So without it, your cells can swell up.
The resulting swelling can cause other health problems, some of which are mild but some of which can be life-threatening—the cure of which reaches both ends of the easy/difficult spectrum as well. Correcting your sodium levels could merely call for less water intake or you may need intravenous fluids and other medication.
So how am I supposed to know if I’m drinking too much water?
Like with exercise and stress, the key to measuring water intake is to listen to your body.
Your body is a set system and it gives you different clues as to how it’s functioning and if it’s functioning well—you just need to pay attention. In the case of how much water you have, the easiest sign is to look at the color of your urine. We know you do it anyway, so you might as well check if it’s right. A light-colored yellow is a sign for celebration, as are number 1 trips to the toilet about seven or eight times a day.
And if there are good signs, there are bad signs. So if you notice your eyes, skin and mouth getting a little dry, then it’s time to load up a little more on the h2o.
So, yes, we believe in the saying that “Too much of something can sometimes be bad”–at least, when it comes to water.
Art Alexandra Lara