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Hydrating: How Much is Too Much?

July 5, 2019

Hydrating: How Much is Too Much?

It’s important to stay water-wise during the hot days of summer.

These days, it seems like a water bottle is part of our everyday wardrobe. Just like a jacket or handbag, water bottles tend to accompany us 24/7 ensuring that wherever we go and whatever we do, we won’t run dry. But when comes to staying healthfully hydrated, how much is too much?

“While most people think they should consume eight 8-oz glasses of water, or roughly 64 ounces every day, everybody has different needs,” says Dr. Tejas Patel, nephrologist with White Plains Hospital Medical and Wellness in Armonk. “The amount of fluid we need depends more on our body size, age, level of activity, and our climate,” he says.

And while it’s unusual for healthy people to overhydrate to the extent that it is harmful to their physical health, “it does happen,” says Dr. Patel. “We see this occasionally with extreme athletes who consume too much water to avoid dehydration, but in reality, it is overhydration that can be far more dangerous.”

Overhydration can occur when people drink much more water than their kidneys can handle essentially overwhelming them. This results in sodium levels in the blood to drop, a condition called hyponatremia. Low sodium level can cause swelling of the brain resulting in various symptoms from confusion, memory problems to seizures. And how much water is that?

“In most cases, a young adult with normal kidney function would have to drink more than six gallons or ninety-six glasses of fluid in a day,” says Dr. Patel.

So how to stay water-wise during the upcoming hot days this spring and summer? “Listen to your body and drink to keep thirst at bay,” says Dr. Patel. “Also incorporate a saltier snack like pretzels during prolonged exercise,” he says. “The body has ways of maintaining balance on its own. As with many things in life, we just need to be mindful of not overdoing it.”

Dr. Tejas Patel is reachable for appointments at (914) 849-7900.

Similar Topics: hydronatremia, over hydration,