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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Can you drink too much water?

Question: I am a landscaper and sweat a lot. I drink between 2 and 3 gallons of water a day. My co-workers say I drink too much water. I say a person can not drink too much water. Who is correct?

Click on comments to read Laura's advice.
Laura NP


Eleventh Hour LLC said...

Dear Erich,
Well, it is possible to drink too much water. In fact, it can be lethal. Sometimes it is part of a psychiatric illness. In your case, you need to drink more water than the average person because of your job. Drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication. Too much water dilutes the sodium in your body and can cause hyponatremia (low salt levels). It can be very dangerous. Symptoms of water intoxication include, feeling weak, dizzy, confused, muscle cramps, slurred speech, passing out, seizures, headache. It can happen to athletes or people like you who drink a lot of water and don't replete the electrolytes with the water. You lose both water and electrolytes when you sweat a lot. The key is to drink over a longer period of time, not all at once. And also to replete the electrolytes too. That's why drinks like Gatorade are popular, because they have electrolytes in them. Bottom line, be careful, listen to your body, drink water slowly over a longer period of time, drink something with electrolytes in it, and, if you experience any of the above symptoms, get to an ER immediately. Good luck and let us know how things go.