We've all heard the recommendation to drink eight glasses of water per day.
And while the science is still out on exactly how much water you should drink each day, there's no doubt that hydration is essential.
Each day we lose around two to three liters through normal functions like sweating, breathing, and going to the bathroom.
But can you drink too much water?
Believe it or not, you can!
Known as water intoxication, or water poisoning, it occurs when you drink more water than your body is able to handle.
Your blood contains a certain level of sodium that your kidneys regulate.
If that level drops too low, say by drinking more water than your kidneys are able to process at once, then your blood becomes diluted and watery.
A condition known as hyponatremia.
That excess water in your blood is carried around your body where it enters your cells, causing them to swell up like balloons.
Now most of the cells in your body are able to handle putting on a little extra size, but there's one place where you definitely don't want that to happen—the brain.
Your brain sits snugly inside the skull, which means it has no room to expand.
As your brain swells and pressure in the skull increases, blood flow is decreased depriving your brain of oxygen.
The first symptoms of water poisoning are headaches and nausea.
But as the brain swells further you can have trouble breathing, experience seizures, go into a coma, or even die!
The exact amount of water needed to cause water poisoning varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors like how much you are sweating, but most of the reported cases involve people drinking multiple gallons in just a few hours.
So don't force yourself to drink more water than you feel like you need.
If you let your thirst be your guide you should be just fine.
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