Signs And Symptoms Of Overhydration: Causes And Treatment

Consuming ample water is necessary since it helps regulate the body temperature, ward off constipation, sluice out the waste, noxious products, and carry out many other vital functions. Hence, it is essential that you ensure that you drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated. On the other hand, drinking too much water can be a rather fatal condition.

The balance between water and sodium in the blood gets completely disrupted and this triggers havoc.

Overhydration occurs when you drink more water than your kidneys can get rid of in the urine and consequently this causes excessive water to build up in the body. Also, when the body fails to eliminate the excess water, it is said to be retaining water. This is known to occur in several medical conditions, and needs to be evaluated and promptly managed.

The common signs and symptoms of overhydration include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion or disorientation

Neglected, overhydration can result in perilously low levels of sodium in the blood. This causes more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Spasms and cramps
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Common Causes Of Overhydration

Overhydration occurs when you drink too much water.

This may occur consciously as well as unconsciously. One may consume large amounts of water during and after exercise. Some medicines cause dry mouth and increase thirst. Increased thirst is also seen in uncontrolled, neglected diabetes mellitus. Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia are also known to cause compulsive drinking of large amounts of water.

When you drink loads of water, sometimes the kidneys cannot get rid of it in the urine and as a result this causes too much water to accumulate in the body. Overhydration also occurs due to water retention. This is often the result of medical conditions, such as kidney disorders, liver disorders, cardiac failure and syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone.

Treatment Options For Overhydration

Your health care provider will ask about your medical history to understand whether the symptoms are caused by overhydration or some other medical condition. He will carry out a physical examination, and will also order blood and urine tests to ascertain the precise cause.

  • Treatment for overhydration depends upon the intensity of the symptoms and the cause.
  • You need to reduce your fluid and salt intake.
  • You may be given diuretics to increase how much urine is produced.
  • Drugs and medicines will be prescribed by your doctor to allay the symptoms – nausea, seizures, and headache.
  • The underlying medical conditions need to be managed successfully.
  • An endurance athlete can decrease his risk of overhydration by weighing himself before and after the race. This helps establish how much water has been lost and how much needs to be replenished.
  • Avoid drinking more than one litre of water per hour. Furthermore, drink more fluids before and during a demanding athletic performance; this will help steer clear of the need to drink lots of water afterwards. Sports beverages which contain the electrolytes potassium and sodium are also advised, given that, both are lost in sweat.
  • If you have an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, or kidney disorders, it is crucial that you confer with your physician about the best treatment option for those conditions and start the treatment without delay.