How to Fix Overhydration (Hyponatremia)

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:13
Believe it or not, it's possible to drink too much water. In fact, overhydration can lead to hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the sodium levels in your blood become too low. If this happens because you're exercising hard and...
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Believe it or not, it’s possible to drink too much water. In fact, overhydration can lead to hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the sodium levels in your blood become too low. If this happens because you’re exercising hard and drinking a ton of water or you’re trying some new kind of water-heavy diet or cleanse, it’s no big deal and you can easily treat it at home. However, if your excessive thirst is acute and caused by an underlying condition though, you may need emergency medical care. In this article, we’ll cover everything you’d ever need to know about drinking too much water.

Things You Should Know

  • Minor symptoms of hyponatremia that don’t require emergency medical care include minor hand swelling, nausea, and headaches.
  • If you vomit, experience weakness, have a seizure, or become confused as a result of drinking too much water, seek emergency medical care.
  • You can treat minor overhydration at home by not drinking water, eating a meal, and taking it easy.
  • Your doctor will treat acute or serious overhydration via IV sodium replacement and by treating any underlying conditions.

Stop drinking water.

  1. Not consuming fluids can fix basic overhydration on its own.
    Cutting back on how much water you consume is often the only thing you need to do if you’re starting to get overhydrated. If you have any of the initial signs of overhydration, like light nausea, a slight headache, cramping, and hand swelling, just stop drinking water and wait 30-45 minutes for the symptoms to get better.[1]
    • If you do happen to be clinically overhydrated (which is extremely rare), it’s still best to stop drinking water as you seek medical care.
    • Just for reference, serious signs of severe overhydration include vomiting, weakness, seizures, and confusion. All of these symptoms warrant emergency medical care.
    • Men do not need to drink more than 125 fluid ounces (3.7 L) of water while women do not typically need to drink more than 91 fluid ounces (2.7 L) of water.[2]
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Take diuretics to urinate more.

  1. Prescription diuretics will replace the missing sodium in your body.
    Diuretics, like bumetanide, ethacrynic acid, and furosemide, will fix the sodium imbalance caused by the excess water. These meds will force you to urinate more to flush excess water while replacing your sodium. If you have been prescribed a diuretic, now is the time to take it per your doctor’s instructions.[3]
    • By urinating more often, your body will flush out the excess water you’ve consumed.
    • If you have an underlying condition that’s likely to cause excess thirst, your doctor may have prescribed you one of these diuretics. If they didn’t, ask them for a prescription.

Eat a meal and take it easy.

  1. Allow your body to replenish its sodium naturally as you rest.
    You may be overhydrated because you’ve been trying a new diet, or pushing yourself to drink more water. If you feel overhydrated, stop chugging water and eat a healthy meal with some sodium in it (like chicken breast, mashed potatoes, leafy greens and broccoli). Relax and you’ll be feeling better in no time.[4]
    • If you get thirsty during or after your meal, drink juice, pop, or a sports drink. Skip the water for now.
    • Signs you’re overdoing it a little on the water include slight nausea, a minor headache, and hand swelling.
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Cut back on the exercise.

  1. Overhydration often affects athletes, so it might be a sign you need a break.
    If you’re training for an Ironman competition or marathon, you may be pushing your body to the limits. It’s natural to find yourself drinking a lot of water while training, but if you’re overhydrated, a break and switch to sports drinks may be in order. It can be hard to take a day off, but you’ll be back out there in no time![5]
    • Take a day or two off, eat something high in sodium (like potato chips), and talk to your doctor about whether or not you should be slowing down on training.
    • You may benefit from switching to sports drinks when you train. Those have enough sodium that you can drink plenty of fluids without worrying about your sodium.

Drink to your natural thirst in the future.

  1. Use your natural cues and the color of your urine to guide you.
    If you don’t have a medical condition or you treat the condition with diuretics, trust your body in the future. If you feel thirsty, drink some water. If you aren’t thirsty, you don’t need the water. So long as your urine is a light yellow, you’re well hydrated.[6]
    • If your urine is totally clear, you are extremely hydrated and you do not need more water.
    • Darker urine that’s a more opaque, golden yellow is a big sign that you’re slightly dehydrated and you need some water.
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Talk to your doctor about changing meds.

  1. Certain medications can make you so thirsty that you overhydrate.
    Many antidepressants and pain medications can trick your body into thinking it’s thirstier than it actually is. If you’ve started a new medication and you’re consistently drinking too much water, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative that won’t make you thirsty.[7]
    • The recreational drug ecstasy (MDMA) can make your brain think you’re dehydrated and lead to hyponatremia. Cutting your use of ecstasy will prevent this issue.
    • If you can’t change your meds and overhydration is going to be a common problem due to excessive thirst, ask your doctor about intravenous electrolyte solutions.[8]

Treat any underlying conditions causing hyponatremia.

  1. If this is a side effect of a disease, treating the issue will solve your hydration problem.
    Hyponatremia can be triggered by heart, kidney, or liver problems. Excessive thirst (primary polydipsia) is a sign that your body is struggling to identify or process fluids, often as a result of an underlying heart, kidney, or liver condition. If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, work with your doctor to treat the issue and resolve the overhydration.[9]
    • Excessive water consumption can also be a symptom of mental health issues, like depressive disorder or schizophrenia.[10]
    • If you do have chest pain, leg swelling, vomiting, trouble breathing, or sudden confusion, seek emergency medical care immediately.
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Get an IV sodium replacement for hyponatremia.

  1. A doctor will administer the sodium replacement to make you healthy.
    Excessive water consumption flushes the sodium from your body. Luckily, IV sodium replacement can replace the missing sodium levels in your body to prevent this from happening. A doctor will hook the IV up and you should be back to into tiptop shape in no time.[11]
    • A lack of sodium is dangerous because it can throw your electrolytes out of balance, which can lead to a cerebral edema (a buildup of fluids in the brain).[12]
    • Unless you’ve been intentionally chugging water when you weren’t thirsty, acute hyponatremia is a signal that something else is going on. Work with your doctor to identify the underlying condition.

Get emergency help for severe symptoms of hyponatremia.

  1. Severe symptoms of hyponatremia are a sign of water intoxication.
    Minor overhydration is no big deal, but if you’re experiencing weakness in your limbs, confusion, vomiting, or seizures, you may be experiencing water intoxication and severe hyponatremia. Go to the ER or contact emergency medical services.[13]
    • Minor or chronic symptoms of hyponatremia include slight nausea and minor headaches. These are non-emergency conditions if they’re due to drinking water with no underlying condition.
    • There are roughly 14 cases of people dying from water intoxication (severe hyponatremia), so this isn’t a particularly common problem.[14]
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