Drinking excess water may not be good for health either

The one thing I try to do in my life is bring about balance. Excess of anything is bad and so is paucity. Recently I was at a gym undergoing a trial session to understand how the training might help me. The one thing the instructor, a national level rugby player emphasized was drink at least 8 glasses of water. There have been many articles and research that tell us to drink water and lots of it. There was also a water gallon challenge that I wrote about some time ago. But Alas too good to be true, new research from the Monash University, Victoria, Australia, now says excess water drinking has its side effects.

Ok so in the past I have read about water toxicity. There have been deaths from excess consumption of water. But this new research shows that there are other challenges.

Now the challenge with excess body water is a condition called Hyponatremia


Hyponatremia is an important and common electrolyte abnormality that can be seen in isolation or, as most often is the case, as a complication of other medical illnesses (eg, heart failure, liver failure, renal failure, pneumonia). The normal serum sodium level is 135-145 mEq/L. Hyponatremia is defined as a serum sodium level of less than 135 mEq/L. Joint European guidelines classify hyponatremia in adults according to serum sodium concentration, as follows[1, 2] :

  • Mild: 130-134 mmol/L
  • Moderate: 125-129 mmol/L
  • Profound: <125 mmol/L

(Source: Medscape)

Now consumption of excess water could lead to a type of Euvolemic hyponatremia,normal body sodium with increase in total body water. Some of the symptions of this condition include

  • nausea
  • malaise
  •  lethargy
  • decreased level of consciousness
  • headache
  • seizures
  •  coma

So if you do suffer from any of these it might make sense to check how much water you are drinking. But the best option is to go to your physician and get a physical examination. There are three diagnostic tests that might further aid in diagnosis, they are

  • urine osmolality
  • serum osmolality
  • urinary sodium concentration

So keeping your self hydrated is good, but excess water can be dangerous as well. As always comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.


Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.