While water is crucial for our overall health, and becoming dehydrated can lead to all sorts of problems, it turns out that my mother was right, there is actually such a thing as drinking too much water. But seriously though, how can too much water be bad for us right?

Let’s talk biology, our kidneys can excrete up to 28 litres of fluid in a day, but only one litre an hour, according to Christina Lang, MD, internal medicine and pediatric physician at UCHealth in Fort Collins. So drinking more than this can lead to water intoxication and electrolyte imbalances.

Additionally, people with certain kidney diseases can become over-hydrated, even if they didn’t drink that much water. This is because they are unable to regulate the excretion of the water in their urine, so if any of these organs are dysfunctional, their liquid limit will be lowered. 

How Much Water Should I Drink A Day?

Approximately 30 to 50 ounces of water, consumed periodically throughout the day is sufficient. It’s important however to remember that while hydration includes water from drinks, it also includes that from water-rich fruits, vegetables and snacks.

Warning signs you’re drinking too much water:

The most common signs of over-hydration are confusion, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting, In more severe cases, additional symptoms can include muscle cramping, weakness, increased blood pressure, double vision, and difficulty breathing. These signs and symptoms of over-hydration are the result of our electrolytes being diluted.

Can I Die From Drinking Too Much Water?

While not common, in theory, you can die from drinking too much water. This is because drinking too much water can cause the sodium level in your blood to drop, resulting in hyponatremia. Which can lead to dangerous fluid shifts into the cells of the body, particularly the brain. With excessive water drinking, above what the kidney can excrete, and without replacing the lost electrolytes (sodium, potassium), a person can have swelling of the brain or a cerebral edema, which can be fatal.

So don’t stop drinking water in fear of consuming too much, just be sure not to over do a good thing, just because some “expert” on social media recommends that you do. If in doubt, speak to your family physician, who can advise you on how much is best for you.