Water is essential for survival and is a key factor in the prevention of dehydration and related diseases. It is calorie-free and sugar-free and helps provide a range of benefits to humans.
Some of the health benefits of water may include improved physical performance, controlled body temperature, reduced oxidative stress, improved brain functioning, reduced risk of kidney stones and a lowered incidences of gastrointestinal problems like constipation.
One of the important benefits of water includes normalising blood pressure in the body and preventing the risk of its symptoms like severe headache, fatigue, chest pain and difficulties in breathing.
Optimal water intake is good for the heart and other body organs, but what happens when a person drinks too much water? Are there any side effects to overhydration? How is drinking too much water linked to blood pressure?
What is the recommended amount for water for humans?
According to a study, the recommended amount of fluid intake by the body is 3000 ml (around 12-13 cups) for men and 2200 ml (around 8-9 cups) for women. The fluid intake could be from beverages and foods, including water. The amount of water consumed may vary depending on the health condition of a person.
What is overhydration?
Overhydration is the excess consumption of water over the recommended amounts. There are two types of overhydration. The first one occurs when a person drinks too much water and the kidneys are unable to remove excess amounts or store it, causing the water to move towards the bloodstream.
The second type of overhydration occurs when the body is unable to excrete excess water due to certain medical conditions like kidney problems, uncontrollable diabetes, and liver problems. Some of the symptoms of overhydration may include severe headache, vomiting, nausea, confusion, muscle weakness and discolouration of hands and feet.
How does overhydration affect blood pressure?
Both excess and inadequate water intake impact blood pressure. Excessive intake of water or overhydration helps manage kidney stones; however, it is not beneficial for heart health.
Excessive water consumption increases the amount of water in the blood, which can dilute the electrolytes present in the blood, including sodium. The electrolytes help maintain fluid levels and are responsible for balancing chemicals like acids and base in the body. Sodium is also an essential for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
When sodium levels in the blood fall below 135 mmol/L, hyponatremia occurs causing water to enter the cells of the body and make them swell.
Cellular swelling interferes with the blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular events like arterial stiffness and heart failure, along with increasing the risks of seizures and coma.
How to manage overhydration?
The best way is to avoid drinking too much fluids, either water or other fluids-, consume only the required amounts. Medication like diuretics may help increase the urine production and lower levels of water in the body. However, consult a medical expert before using any form of medication.
Water comprises of 60 per cent of body weight. This reveals the importance of water for the body; however, avoid drinking it in excess because drinking more than the required amount of water has many side effects.
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