Yes, hydrate, but drinking too much can be dangerous, says doc
Jul 18, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: Jul 20, 2023, 8:31 am
(Tom Baker/Deposit Photos)
SALT LAKE CITY — As the hot weather continues, hydrating is important, but it is possible to drink too much water. So, drink when you’re thirsty but don’t overhydrate, a Utah doctor advises.
When thirsty, drink water
Hartridge says hyponatremia is an electrolyte disorder that occurs when low sodium levels are present in the blood and can result in confusion, fatigue, nausea and headache.
Sodium helps control fluid levels inside and outside of cells, according to Medical News Today. When sodium levels drop due to excessive water consumption, fluids travel from the outside to the inside of cells, causing them to swell.
Hartridge said the “severe derangement” in your electrolytes can bring on movement and balance issues called ataxia and in severe cases can result in a coma or possibly even death.
He added hyponatremia is “definitely something to be mindful of if you are force-feeding yourself water.”
Endurance athletes are told to drink beyond their thirst, to overhydrate throughout the course of the race, he said.
But “they’re not giving themselves those electrolytes back in simple food and snacks,” which can lead to symptoms of water intoxication, Hartridge said.
He said in addition to your thirst, pay attention to your urine. If you expect to be urinating and are not, that could be a sign of dehydration. Also, he said, dark urine could be a sign of dehydration.
“If you then do go to the bathroom and you have really kind of dark — what would be considered concentrated — urine, the body’s trying to reclaim as much of that water back to keep itself hydrated, so that urine becomes more and more concentrated. It’s really dark. If you’re hydrated, well, it’s going to be clear yellow,” Hartridge said.
If your urine is clear and you are not replenishing your electrolytes, that could be a sign of overhydration, Hartridge said.
The physician’s final advice is to stay hydrated over time.
“If you’re just pounding big gallons of water at a time, that can definitely lead to some issues there because you’re over-hydrating yourself in a short period of time,” he said. “Your body needs a little bit of time to balance that out, for your kidneys to filter through it, for the fluids to shift where they need to be shifting inside their body to keep you balanced.”
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