Everybody says that we should drink water. In fact, a lot of it. But, you might be surprised that it’s possible to drink too much water. Though less common, overhydration is a problem just like dehydration.
Overhydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance and dilute important bodily substances, like sodium. It can also cause nausea. Headaches. Even confusion. Ironically, the Mayo Clinic found that athletes are most susceptible to drinking too much water due to copious water intake during intense workouts or endurance events.
Here are the top signs that you are drinking too much water during the day.
1: Your urine is crystal clear. While it’s true that deep yellow color is a sign of dehydration, crystal clear urine is a sign that you’re drinking too much water. Instead, your pee should be more of a pale yellow.
“In a healthy person, your urine is a good indicator of your hydration status,” writes Healthline. “Pale yellow urine that looks like lemonade is a good goal. Darker urine means you need more water. Colorless urine means you are overhydrated.”
2: You are urinating a lot. According to WebMD, most people urinate six to eight times a day. Those who drink a lot of water might urinate as many as 10 times a day. If you urinate more than that, then you might be drinking too much water.
3: Your extremities (like feet and hands) are swollen. Drinking too much water can cause the body’s cells (including brain cells) to swell and retain fluid due to the reduction of sodium in the body, a condition known as Hyponatremia.
“Symptoms of hyponatremia may be mild at first, such as a feeling of nausea or bloating. Symptoms can become severe, especially when sodium levels suddenly drop. Serious symptoms include: fatigue, weakness, unsteady gait, irritability, confusion, and convulsions.“
How much water should you drink? “It’s a simple question with no easy answer,” says the Mayo Clinic. Water needs will vary widely based on the individual. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that a daily intake of 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women is usually adequate.
The Mayo Clinic said that your water intake is probably okay if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is pale yellow. It also recommends drinking a glass of water with each meal and between each meal, during and after exercise, and if you feel hungry.
Is the eight glasses of water a day recommendation still valid?
“Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty,” Mayo said. “For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough. But other people might need more.”