Can You Really Drink Too Much Water? Here’s the Truth About How Much You Should Consume

Can You Really Drink Too Much Water? Here’s the Truth About How Much You Should Consume
Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

The importance of hydration is hardly breaking news. We're told throughout science classes that the body is made up of more than two-thirds of water. It helps with our bodily functions, such as our kidneys and digestive system. 

There's no single formula for how much water someone should drink — it depends on their weight, activity level and environment. Typically, someone should drink about four to six cups of water a day to aid the hydration that comes with eating foods that have fluid in them, according to the Harvard Health Letter

Ultimately, the best method to optimal hydration is to listen to our intuitive thirst levels. 

Over-hydration, while possible, is rare. "More people by far and away are dehydrated, [rather] than having a problem with over-hydration," Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine Sharon Bergquist told WebMD.

When it does happen, though, over-hydration can cause water intoxication, bodily swelling and dangerously low sodium levels. Basically, the kidneys are unable to filter out fluids at the rate of intake. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion and fatigue. 

Source: Giphy

Endurance athletes are especially prone to over-consuming water, according to a 2015 study. If you participate in physical activity that results in excessive sweating, the suggested amount of additional water intake is 1.5 to 2.5 glasses, but you should never be drinking more than one liter of fluid per hour.

It's impossible to accurately track your hydration levels, but one way is by checking the color of your urine. Dark urine means you're not drinking enough while urinating out clear water (and at a frequent rate) means you may be drinking too much.

"There's a fine line," Chris McStay, an emergency medicine doctor, told WebMD. "It's important to listen to your body. If you're pushing fluids beyond the point it's comfortable, it's a sign it's time to stop drinking."

Read more:
• This Is How Much Water You Save When You Pee in the Shower
• Can Apple Juice Cure Hangovers? Drink Hydrates Better Than Pricier Juices
• A New Study Shows How Drinking More Water Can Supercharge Your Workday

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Kathleen Wong

Kathleen is a branded content staff writer at Mic. She is based in New York and can be reached at kathleen@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Democratic brand, WH Communications Director, Jared Kushner to be questioned

Here are the important stories to know for Monday, July 24

New White House communications director Scaramucci says press briefings should be on-camera

If the new White House communications director gets his way, the press briefings could soon be recorded once again.

At least 8 dead, 30 injured in locked tractor trailer outside Walmart in Texas

Authorities told press that the deaths were caused by "a human trafficking crime."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Democratic brand, WH Communications Director, Jared Kushner to be questioned

Here are the important stories to know for Monday, July 24

New White House communications director Scaramucci says press briefings should be on-camera

If the new White House communications director gets his way, the press briefings could soon be recorded once again.

At least 8 dead, 30 injured in locked tractor trailer outside Walmart in Texas

Authorities told press that the deaths were caused by "a human trafficking crime."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.