The body needs water to survive, but there is such a thing as drinking too much. Drinking too much can cause overhydration, which happens when the body has too much water relative to its sodium levels.
When this occurs, the sodium in the blood is diluted, which causes cells to swell. The kidneys try to rid the body of excess water by flushing it out through urination; however, the thirst mechanism is often confused and sends even more fluid into the bladder. This continues until the body reaches a normal balance of water and electrolytes or hyperhydration occurs.
Although it’s rare and usually only found in endurance athletes, hyperhydration can be fatal. The most common symptoms in healthy people who are not exercising include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, weakness, and an elevated heart rate. These symptoms usually occur when a person has consumed 10-12 glasses of overhydrating fluids within two hours.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately, as it could lead to comas or even death in extreme cases. Let’s discuss how to prevent hyperhydration, the symptoms of overhydrating and when you should seek medical attention.
Nausea and Vomiting
Sometimes when a person is overhydrated, they will experience nausea and vomiting. There are a few reasons why this happens. First, there is the simple fact that water is needed to keep the body from absorbing too much salt. The kidneys use the water in the blood to flush out extra salt, which is then excreted through urination. When a person drinks too much salt-containing liquid, however, it can dilute the salt concentration in the blood so much that it cannot be effectively flushed out. This causes an electrolyte imbalance within the body, resulting in nausea and other symptoms, such as diarrhea and muscle cramps.
When a person vomits due to overhydration, they may have been trying to relieve themselves of nausea already; vomiting forces their body to lose some of its excess water content and salt reserves. Thus far, this has been the only way for your body to eliminate too much salt without urinating it (which would require less total water loss). If you or someone else experiences nausea and vomiting after drinking excessively and excessively often, consider the possibility of overhydration and electrolyte imbalance. If you are vomiting, see a doctor immediately.