Can you drink TOO MUCH water?

Is it possible to drink too much water? Other than going to the bathroom every five minutes, would there be any other negative effects?

Yes you can drink to much water

Yep. You can screw up your electrolyte balance so badly that you die.

There are clinics that help people kick their water addiction.

No, I’m not kidding.

Well, how much is safe?

Just want to do it to help my diet and all… I read most people don’t drink enough.

Would a half gallon at night be sufficient? What if you’re one who naturally has to use the bathroom a lot. I seem to get rid of liquid faster than I drink it.

pluss my lips and hands are dry all the time

Let your own physiology be the judge. If you get thirsty, drink, if you aren’t, then don’t.

But I suppose there are exceptions in every case…if you’re the type that gets chronically dehydrated, drink more. Around 4-6 cups a day I think would suffice for most people.

Cecil Speaks on “Is too much water bad for you?”

What about drinking a lot of Gatorade-which has all those electrolites and salt and stuff?

well, the main goal would be to flush out all the yuck and help me lose a little weight.

Gatorage is expencive. And I would think the sugar wouldn’t help. But maybe not.

I wonder what else is out there…

In Cecil’s column, he mentions that exertion is also a factor. The loss of electrolytes (through sweating) is part of the problem.

IANAD, but I expect that if you haven’t been doing heavy exercise, you can drink water until your stomach is full without danger. But if you’re drinking water to flush out your body, wouldn’t it be just as effective to spread it out over the day? Might even work better.

I have seen more than one news report about ravers high on ecstasy dying after drinking far too much water trying to quench the artificial thirst the drug causes.

Well, I asked Unca Cecil about this before I joined the boards, after a couple friends and I had a water drinking competion. A word of advice- this is something to do in the middle of the day, rather than after 10pm. We drank water by the 24 oz plastic tumbler-full, watching A League of Their Own for inspiration. Becky (105# Becky, before drying off) dropped out after about 80 oz, but Mike and I stayed in until about 200 oz over 3.5 hours or so. I must have peed 6 or 8 times during the contest, a substantial amount before hitting the sack, and copius amounts- at least 40 seconds of forced peeing- 3 times in the night, (luckily in the toilet) and again upon waking up. Beck woke up 6 times to pee. Mike and I both felt light headed towards the end. Ahh, how I miss college life. My psych major housemate had read about people who do get addicted to the high and will drink out of toilet bowls. Such strange hangups people have.

Well, if you have an eating disoder and you drink too much, you can cause yourself hyponatremia. Basically you pee out too much salt and can cause yourself grand-mal seizures and the like. However, I think you really have to work at this to have it happen. (The only cases I’ve read about are at weight rewarded eating disorder clinics - where patients are giving rewards or privilages based on a weekly weigh in. Sometimes patients will attempt to up their weight by binge drinking water before weigh in. Badness abounds.)

If you’re just going to replace your current beverage selections with water, or skip the Doritos and have a glass of water instead, I wouldn’t worry too much.

Well, if you have an eating disoder and you drink too much, you can cause yourself hyponatremia. Basically you pee out too much salt and can cause yourself grand-mal seizures and the like. However, I think you really have to work at this to have it happen. (The only cases I’ve read about are at weight rewarded eating disorder clinics - where patients are given rewards or privlages based on a weekly weigh in. Sometimes patients will attempt to up their weight by binge drinking water before weigh in. Badness abounds.)

If you’re just going to replace your current beverage selections with water, or skip the Doritos and have a glass of water instead, I wouldn’t worry too much.

This is generally a sign you’re not eating enough fats/oils, rather than an indication of water consumption. Other culprits are dry air and a lack of certain vitamins, so take a look at your diet before you run off and gorge on lard. :stuck_out_tongue:

Water: during the cool seasons I drink about two liters a day without problems. During hot season (like now… pant pant) I drink lots more… I’m guessing at least 3 liters if not somewhat more than that.

Don’t rely on thirst (yet). I know when I started on the 2-liters-a-day thing, I very rarely got thirsty during the day… generally if you’re used to not drinking much water, you’re already moderately dehydrated by the time you feel thirsty. However, NOW, if I go too long without water, I start to feel thirsty, crabby, icky, sometimes headachy, which goes away after I get a glass or two of water in me.

Peeing: you will most likely pee like a race horse for the first 2-3 weeks or so. (My first week I had to go EVERY HALF HOUR during the day.) After that your body adapts to the new hydration level and you pee no more often than usual. Oh, and if you want to sleep during the night, stop drinking at least 2 hours before bedtime, at least at first. And then no more than a glass or two later on.

I suck at volume conversion, but I think a half-gallon is less than two liters, so you’re in no danger with that. I’d even suggest you drink a little more than that. But definitely space it throughout the day. Just carry a water bottle/glass with you. Drinking it all in one go would be a pain in the butt and possibly annoying enough for you to feel like quitting sooner or later. Drinking small amounts throughout the day is (IMO) much easier.

And don’t forget your veggies. :wink:

IANAD, but from what I understand, hyponatremia is at least as much a salt problem as a water problem. The name itself refers to a lack of sodium in the blood. Sodium can be lost not only through urine as alice_in_wonderland mentioned, but also through sweat.

The issue is not that the patient has drunk too much water, but that the patient has drunk too much water without eating. Eating would replace the lost sodium and restore the needed balance.

In my Wilderness First Responder training, they specifically told us not to give Gatorade to hyponatremic patients unless we watered down the Gatorade to 1/3 Gatorade and 2/3 water (too much sugar in Gatorade, and not really enough salt anyway). Salt tablets should also not be swallowed since they will draw water out of the blood and into the digestive tract. The best mixture is Oral Rehydration Salts, which are basically: 1 teaspoon of table salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1 liter of water.

Cite: Wilderness Medicine Handbook, 7th ed. Gray, Tarter, and Tilton (eds.) 2001. Wilderness Medicine Institute.

I guess hyponatremia is very rare, and the only instances of it I’ve heard of are the ravers Maud’Dib mentions and apparently there were and are some cases in hikers in the Grand Canyon.

Well, it’s a constant and real risk in endurance sports, and really not all that uncommon. About a third of all Ironman-distance triathlon finishers are hyponatremic, for example.

Actually, drinking a lot of water really isn’t going to flush out anything.

A rule of thumb to tell if you’re properly hydrated is to drink enough that you’re peeing clear (or nearly so) once a day. If your urine is always yellow then you should drink more water. Likewise, if it’s consistently clear, then you’re drinking a little too much and can back off a bit.

The sugar in a sports drink actually does help. A little bit of carbs sorta trips the digestive system’s fluid-absorption mechanism, so you absorb water more efficiently. However, Gatorade does have too much sugar (about double) than it needs, and it’s only simple sugars (which isn’t the best as far as athletic performance is concerned).

If Gatorade is too expensive, you can buy it in powder form and mix it yourself. It’s much cheaper that way. If you want to go really cheap, you can make your own sports drink. I make my own (more so I can control the contents rather than for price reasons, plus, I’m that hard core :)), and I can make literally gallons and gallons of the stuff for the same price as a jug of Gatorade. My basic recipe is for every liter of water, I add about 30g of maltodextrin (a complex carb, found in home brewing supply stores), 800 mg salt, and 200 mg no-sodium salt substitute (for potassium). You may want to sweeten/flavor to taste or add some other stuff if you want (antioxidants, protein, etc…), but that will give you the correct basic proportions.

It won’t help your diet except by physically filling your stomach and producing a feeling of fullness so you won’t eat as much. And as pointed out, most people do get enough water.

You didn’t say you were chronically thirsty as well, but if so, you might want to see your doctor about this.

A previous related thread: Who decided we needed 8 glasses of water?

Short answer: we get most of that in our food.

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