Liqui-librium

How much is too much when it comes to hydration?

It sounds like common sense: When it’s hot outside or you’re exercising, you drink lots of water. It’s how your body stays hydrated, right? But there’s also such a thing as drinking too much water within a short time, which can cause the level of sodium in your blood to drop too low. The condition is called hyponatremia, or water intoxication—and it can be fatal, with symptoms ranging from nausea and irritation to confusion, seizures, and ultimately, a coma.

So how much water is too much? There’s no definite benchmark, and cases of hyponatremia are rare. But you’d have to consume gallons and gallons. Dr. Mitchell Rosner, a nephrologist at UVA Health, recommends taking your time when you drink liquids and listening to your body’s thirst signals. “If you drink when thirsty,” he says, “you will not become hyponatremic, and you will not suffer from significant dehydration.”


This article originally appeared in our April 2019 issue.

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