Symptoms of Overhydration – How Much Water Is too Much?

The symptoms of overhydration are often ignored by people, but they can indicate a problem that if left untreated, could cause some major health disturbances.

Hyperhydration or overhydration is a rare condition where the body accumulates more water than it eliminates. It can occur between athletes and kidney patients. Find out in this space about this pathology.

To speak of hyperhydration is to refer to a term that is not common, not even among doctors. At the other extreme, dehydration is a well known condition.

Well, hyperhydration is the opposite of dehydration. It is also defined as water poisoning, as if it were a poison. And is that any substance in excess becomes toxic to the body.

Although it is a rare, rare disorder, it can occur among long-marathon athletes and kidney patients. In people with good kidney function, it is very difficult to reach this state, since filtration and urine production prevent this.

In numerical and quantity terms, in a healthy adult, it would be necessary to exceed 24 liters of water per day for the kidneys to be out of capacity. As we can imagine, under normal conditions, it is strange.

Causes of the disorder

As we have already anticipated, there are specific situations that favor hyperhydration. One of these situations is the practice of ultra resistance sports, such as marathons, for example. Athletes hydrate excessively due to fear of dehydration, and this can lead to an improvement in the levels of filtering in the face of kidneys that change their physiology for sport.

There is a psychiatric condition called psychogenic polydipsia, in which the person ingests water at every moment, motivated by unfounded fears. They constitute another risk group for hyperhydration, especially in times of acute crisis.

Kidney patients have hyperhydration exposure due to malfunctioning of urine filtration. Even with a controlled intake, the mismatch of the renal glomeruli can lead to the accumulation of internal water.

Finally, we will mention inappropriate vasopressin secretion. Also called antidiuretic hormone, it is a substance that the pituitary makes to stop the production of urine when necessary. If vasopressin is abundant, the order to the kidneys is to retain water.

Symptoms of overhydration

In a state of water intoxication, the cells of all the organs begin to accumulate extra fluid inside. There is a cellular inflammation that does not happen in the classic way.

When the neurons are inflamed by water, the intracranial pressure increases, and all the structures of the brain press together and against the bones of the skull. This will generate from headaches to neurological disorders.

Often times, increasing the volume of water dilutes electrolytes in the blood, such as sodium and potassium. We entered states of hypokalemia and hyponatremia, with the consequent effect on muscle metabolism. There are limb cramps and extreme fatigue.

If hypokalemia continues, low blood potassium levels prevent the heart muscle from contracting efficiently. Immediate heart failure appears, decreases blood flow, and arrhythmias can be seen.

In extreme situations, the evolution goes from delusions, hallucinations and seizures, to coma and death. Death is due to heart failure or intracranial pressure on the respiratory bulbs.

Some studies have found that a sore throat is an initial symptom of hyperhydration. This would be because the brain, when registering the increase in the internal water volume, generates a closed throat sensation when drinking.

Types of hyperhydration

We can suffer from two forms of hyperhydration: hypotonic and isotonic. In the first, the amount of fluid in the body increases, but the electrolytes do not accompany it. In the second, sodium increases along with extra water.

Hypotonic hyperhydration owes its symptoms to dilution of sodium and potassium. When it appears, the group that most manifests it are the insufficient kidney stones. In healthy individuals this form is very rare.

To treat hypotonic hyperhydration, you need to supply the body with the missing electrolytes to make up for the dilution, while stimulating the urine. Therefore, you should do it in a controlled environment, intravenously, under medical supervision.

In the other case, that of isotonic hyperhydration, the key symptom is edema. People see their lower limbs swollen and, in the case of hypertensive patients, the tension values ​​rise above normal in a persistent way.

Since isotonic hyperhydration responds to other underlying diseases, treatment should focus on them. Restricting sodium intake with food is also essential to allow the kidneys to eliminate excess.

Hyperhydration prevention

Even in cases caused by chronic underlying diseases, it is possible to prevent the appearance of symptoms. Strict kidney control and adequate water intake are sufficient.

If hyperhydration, despite everything, becomes evident, doctors will be in charge of correcting the disorder. The handling of the electrolytes must be careful not to cause major problems.

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