What is Water Intoxication and what are its side effects?

How much water is too much water or, is there even such a thing as ‘too much water.’ Let’s find out!

What is Water Intoxication and what are its side effects?
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As we all know, water is one of the best healing elixirs for any ailment. It not only flushes out harmful toxins from the body but is also essential for carrying out other bodily functions. Drinking water is a part of almost every good health practice and it is indeed crucial for good health. But did you know, there’s such a thing as ‘too much water?’ Yes, you read that right.

While drinking eight to ten glasses of water is recommended by health experts. Drinking too much water can result in water intoxication and other severe health consequences. Generally, the symptoms of water intoxication are mild however, in certain cases, it can be fatal as well.

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What is water intoxication?

Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, is essentially a disruption of brain functions caused by drinking too much water. This disturbance in the brain functions is caused when the normal electrolytes balance is pushed outside the safe limits by excessive water intake. Although drinking too much water accidentally is a rare occurrence, it is possible as a result of overhydration during intense training, exercise or sports events.

Water intoxication increases the amount of water in the blood and weakens the kidney’s ability to excrete excess water load. This makes the sodium, which is needed to balance the fluids inside and outside of cells, diluted. Our body fiercely responds to this and, as such when the sodium levels drop due to excessive water consumption, it causes the water to enter the cells which result in swelling of the cells.

Side effects of Water Intoxication

The old proverb 'excess of everything is bad' is indeed right, and demands us to have everything in moderation. Hence, if water is not consumed in moderation, it can be dangerous to the body as well. These dangers include:

Body Imbalance

Water intoxication causes water overload in the body and imbalance. Excess water lowers sodium levels and results in symptoms, like nausea, cramps, fatigue, vomiting and more.

What is Water Intoxication and what are its side effects? unsplash


Headache is caused due to both dehydration and water intoxication. However, when you consume an excessive quantity of water, the salt consumption in your blood reduces and brain cells swell which increases the pressure inside the skull. This causes headache and other symptoms of water intoxication.

Fluid Build-up in brain

Severe cases of drinking too much water can be fatal or cause seizures, a coma or brain damage. In case when the brain cells swell excessively, it can also lead to muscle weakness, drowsiness, cramping, increased blood pressure, inability to identify sensory information, chest pain or breathing difficulty, double vision and confusion.

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