The condition in which there is imbalance between the water content and other electrolytes of the body is known as overhydration. It is also called water intoxication. In this condition, the total water content of the body becomes abnormal and this may cause life threatening situations such as inflammation of the cells in the brain and building of intracranial pressure. Eventually the normal blood flow that is sent to the brain gets blocked causing serious complications like seizure, coma and death.
When the water you drink is not flushed out through the kidneys normally, there may be accumulation of water particles. Overhydration is caused when there is excess of water particles on the body and this can be due to several factors. Normally people can live healthy only if they take plenty of water but at the same time, the water consumed should be urinated well. Otherwise there is a risk of water intoxication in the body.
• Drinking Excess of Water
Drinking too much of water during contest can lead to this condition. Certain types of kidney disease can seriously affect the normal urinating process causing overhydration. Water intoxication can increase due to a syndrome by name SIADH (Syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone). Any serious disease in the heart can trigger swelling of fluids in the body.
Age plays a role in affecting the electrolyte in your blood causing imbalance which would eventually lead to overhydration.
• Decrease in Sodium level
If the sodium level in blood is reduced due to thyroid problem or intense vomiting and diarrhea then it can cause water intoxication in the body.
• Side Effects of Medications
Certain medications like diuretic given for controlling hypertension and drugs prescribed for depression can increase the frequency of urination. Electrolyte imbalance can also be caused when a person suddenly moves to hot climatic region which would cause increased sweating.
People who participate in contests and those who are working in hot environment are induced to drink more water than the body actually require. Increased sweating may also trigger sodium imbalance in blood causing overhydration.
The person who is affected with overhydration will have symptoms like tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, headache and irritability. He may also become restless after some time and may get intense muscle spasms or seizures. Some persons may also faint losing their consciousness.
If there is inordinate delay in taking the person to the hospital, it may even prove fatal.
Who are at risk?
Athletes who indulge in vigorous sports activities are prone to take more water, retain it for sufficient time and perspire heavily losing sodium ions rapidly.
For mild case of overhydration, it is enough if the affected person reduces the intake of fluids. You can also take some salty foods for balancing the loss of electrolyte. But you need to make sure that you have got symptoms of hyponatremia (imbalance of electrolyte due to loss of sodium)
In severe cases, the person will have to be hospitalized to put him on intravenous fluids for balancing the loss of electrolytes. Medications will be given for reducing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
However, your doctor will have to find out the underlying factor that has caused overhydration. In case the problem is due to hormonal imbalance, then he would give suitable therapy for replacing the hormone.
Monitor the amount of water you take daily. You need to drink only the water that is needed by your body which varies with the physical activities you perform and climatic conditions.
You can also check the hydration level of your body by the color of urine.