What Is Water Intoxication?

Doctors, dieticians and other health profession advisors all stress the importance of drinking water. Depending on our activity levels and the weather (the hotter it is, the faster you dehydrate), you need to drink between two and three litres of water a day.

However, there is a limit to drinking water and we should stick with in this guideline. Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, is a potentially fatal disturbance in your brain function that occurs when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed past the safe limits – this is commonly referred to as over-hydration.

What are the risks of drinking too much water? Here are the three major medical risks of over-hydration:

Number One- Kidney Disease

When you drink too much water, your kidneys need to work overtime to filter the excess water out of your system. The extra water places pressure on your kidneys beds and will cause ‘wear and tear’ to the organ.

Number Two – Your Heart

The more water you drink, the more your heart needs to pump it through your blood system. If you over-hydrate your body will compensate by pumping the water into your lungs, effectively drowning your lungs.

Number Three – Your Brain

If you drink too much water, the cells in your body begin to swell. If the swelling occurs within your brain, you then place pressure on the brain, as the swelling cells become compressed by the flat bones that make up your skull.

So how do you know if you are over-hydrated?


There are ten key ways to identify that you are over-hydrated:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Irritability

So how do you prevent over-hydration?

The easiest and most effective way to prevent water intoxication is to only drink as much water as your body needs. This amount will vary on a daily basis, however the easiest way to determine your hydration levels, is to use your urine colour as an indicator. Pale yellow urine indicates that you are drinking enough water, while a dark yellow/brown colour means that you need to take in more water.

Remember, if you are exercising, you lose body fluids and as a result should drink two hundred millilitres of water for every half an hour that you are active. Furthermore, for endurance training, you need to supplement your water intake with electrolytes to keep your body functioning properly.

In conclusion, we all need to drink water to keep our bodies healthy. However, watch how much water you drink, as it could lead to major health complications.

I am Greg Jones, a water lover and water coolers user. I find that as a water lover, I tend to drink more water than is required. Ensure that you know the dangers of over-hydration and how easy it is to prevent it.