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Can You Be Overhydrated?

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If you’re an athlete, gym junkie, or simply an active adult who is serious about their hydration, you may have asked yourself the question, “Can I be overhydrated?” In this article, we’ll help you answer that question and explore ways to stay hydrated and healthy. From adding electrolyte powder to your water bottle to knowing how much water to drink, we’ve got you covered.

What Is Overhydration?

Medically speaking, overhydration is a scenario where your body takes in more water than it can expel. The result is an imbalance of electrolytes in your body, particularly sodium. Sodium is vital to properly functioning nerves, muscles, and other tissues. It is responsible for regulating the water in and around your cells. When there’s not enough sodium in your body, it can lead to muscle cramps, weakness, and even seizures. Overhydration causes a reduced level of sodium, which can be dangerous.

Hydrate Properly with Hydration Capsules

Symptoms of Overhydration

The brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of overhydration because it is mainly made up of water. When the cells in the brain swell, they put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the brain, which can lead to several symptoms.

Slow Onset Symptoms 

The first symptoms of overhydration are usually mild and can include brain fog, distractibility, lethargy, and fatigue. These symptoms can be hard to distinguish from normal tiredness, so they’re often ignored. But if you’re active and these symptoms appear, it could indicate that you’re retaining too much water. 

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Quick Onset Symptoms 

More severe symptoms of overhydration can come on quickly and include vomiting, dizziness, vertigo, and balance issues. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must stop drinking water and seek medical attention immediately. 

Severe Cases 

In rare cases, overhydration can lead to seizures or coma. This is more likely to happen if you consume large amounts of water in a short period or have certain medical conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, have someone contact 9-1-1 right away. 


Edema is a condition that results when fluids build up in the tissues of the body. It can cause the affected area to swell and feel tight or heavy. Although edema can affect any part of the body, it is most commonly seen in the hands, feet, ankles, and legs. While edema is often caused by a medical condition, such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease, it can also be a sign of overhydration. When someone drinks too much fluid, and their kidneys cannot remove all the excess water from the blood, the water accumulates in the tissues, causing swelling. In most cases, edema is not serious and will resolve on its own. However, if left unchecked, it can lead to more serious problems, such as organ damage. 

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Who Is Susceptible to Overhydration?

While anyone can experience overhydration, certain groups of people are more susceptible. 

Pre-existing medical conditions – If you have a disorder or medical condition that affects the regular excretion of urine from your kidneys, you could be at risk of overhydration. People with heart, kidney, or liver problems are particularly susceptible. 

If you’re taking certain medications – Particular medications, such as some antidepressants, can make people more susceptible to overhydration. This is because these drugs can inhibit the body’s natural ability to get rid of fluids, leading to a build-up of water in the body. As we just discussed, this is particularly dangerous for people already at risk for overhydration, such as those with medical conditions or taking medications that affect the kidneys. It’s important to note that you should never stop taking necessary medication like antidepressants without guidance from your prescribing healthcare professional. 

Treating Overhydration

The first step in treating overhydration is to restrict fluids. This is done under doctor supervision to ensure you don’t mistakenly become dehydrated. If overhydration is due to kidney, liver, or heart problems, sodium may also be restricted. This helps to stop the body from retaining water.

Since overhydration can occur for many reasons, treatment will be specific to your case. For example, your doctor may stop certain medications. They may also prescribe diuretics (medicines that help rid the body of excess water). Other drugs may be used under doctor supervision if you need to stay in the hospital. 

The goal of treatment is to restore the body’s fluid balance and prevent further complications. With prompt treatment, most people make a full recovery from overhydration.

Is Overhydration Common?

Fortunately, no. While dehydration is common, overhydration is not. In fact, it’s pretty rare. Most cases of overhydration occur in endurance athletes (marathon runners, ironman triathletes, rugby athletes, etc.) or military personnel. 

This is because these groups are more likely to drink large amounts of water in a short period and may be less aware of the signs and symptoms of overhydration. As mentioned, people with certain medical conditions affecting their kidneys, liver, or heart are also at higher risk.

Healthy Ways to Stay Hydrated

Being hydrated is essential for many reasons. It helps your body to function correctly, flushes out toxins, and prevents dehydration. But what does being hydrated really mean? 

Hydration Basics

To begin, on an average day, you should drink around one-half to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. So, for example, a 150-pound individual should drink anywhere from 75 to 150 ounces — or 9.4 to 15.5 cups — per day. But, of course, that’s a huge variable, so you’ll also need to spot signs of thirst like a dry mouth or dark-colored urine. 

When to Drink More

You’ll also need to drink more fluids on days when you’re sweating more than usual. This includes hot days, when you’re exercising, or when you have a fever. On these days, aim to drink at least one extra cup of water for each hour of sweating. 

Maintain Electrolyte Balance

Beyond just drinking fluids, it’s important to maintain electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are minerals that help to regulate fluid balance in the body. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes along with water. That’s why it’s essential to replenish fluids and electrolytes after exercise or when you’ve been sweating excessively. 

You can do this by taking electrolyte hydration capsules along with your water. If you’re looking to jazz up your plain water, you can also add powdered blue raspberry electrolytes or other flavored versions to it. Both are great solutions. 

woman drinking water electrolytes

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Final Thoughts

Knowing the signs of overhydration and the importance of staying properly hydrated is key to preventing any health complications. It’s also important to maintain electrolyte balance, which you can do by drinking fluids and taking electrolyte hydration capsules or eating foods high in water and electrolytes. By being mindful of your fluid intake and what you’re putting into your body, you can stay healthy and well-hydrated all year round.

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