Is Chugging Water Bad For You?

by Brett Simpson / May 22, 2023
Is Chugging Water Bad For You?

We all know the importance of staying hydrated… but what if we told you chugging too much water can actually be a bad thing?

As you’ll see in just a minute, chugging too much water can do more harm than good. Of course, that’s not to say you should stop drinking water (or even drink less water), but chugging 8 glasses a day may not be what’s best for you. 

Read on to discover why and when chugging water can actually be surprisingly dangerous. And how to know when you’ve had too much water! 


The Problem With Chugging Is Too Much, Too Fast

When we drink too much water too quickly, which is what can happen when we chug water, our bodies can get overwhelmed. Because when we have too much water in our system, our kidneys can't keep up.

Remember, our kidneys filter our blood, remove excess water and waste, and concentrate that waste into urine. And when they can’t help us excrete excess water fast enough, that water basically “drowns” critical minerals in our bodies. In other words, vital nutrients like electrolytes become diluted by all that extra water.

This is called overhydration (yep—it’s a thing!). And while it may sound like nothing, or near-impossible, it can be a big deal because nutrients and electrolytes play an important role in the vast majority of our body’s processes. So if they’re drowning in water, and therefore diluted in your blood, those nutrients and electrolytes can’t effectively do their jobs! 


Understanding Overhydration

To sum it up, overhydration occurs when the kidneys can't excrete water fast enough to maintain the proper balance of water and electrolytes in the body.

This has an impact on your muscle and nerve function, blood pressure, and more. Plus, it can even lead to the loss of other essential minerals and vitamins, because excess water intake leads to increased urine output. And when you urinate too much, you can flush out beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium from the body. So over time, overhydration can even lead to deficiencies in more and more nutrients, and potentially affect overall health and function.

Here are a few signs and symptoms of overhydration:

  • Headaches
  • Tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Swelling or puffiness in the hands, feet, or face
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Dizziness
  • Bloating
  • Frequent urination 
  • Clear or pale urine 
  • Confusion or disorientation

Bottom line? It’s important to maintain a balance!

Just as too little water is a bad thing, too much water can be dangerous too. But overhydration isn’t the only issue associated with chugging, or gulping, large amounts of water. 


When Things Go From Bad To Worse

When it comes to overhydration, there’s one particular electrolyte you really need to watch out for: Sodium. Because sodium is responsible for many things, including maintaining the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells. 
In other words, the concentration of sodium in the blood is critical for regulating the movement of water in and out of cells, including the cells of the brain. And when blood sodium levels are abnormally low, water and other fluids can sneak inside of cells and cause them to swell. 

The result can be a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is particularly alarming because when brain cells swell due to low blood sodium levels, more severe concerns like brain damage, dysfunction, a coma, and even death can potentially occur. If your blood gets so diluted with water that blood sodium levels fall below ~135 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) hyponatremia occurs. 

So too little sodium in your blood can result in a potentially-fatal condition called hyponatremia.

Said differently, hyponatremia is basically an imbalance of water to salt (sodium). And you can think of overhydration as one of many precursors to hyponatremia. 

So the scariest thing associated with chugging too much water isn't merely overhydration. It’s the potential development of hyponatremia because hyponatremia has far more severe and higher risk symptoms!

Hyponatremia Signs & Symptoms

Overhydration and hyponatremia can have overlapping symptoms (like confusion or disorientation, swelling, nausea and vomiting, etc.), since hyponatremia is a common complication of severe overhydration.

However, hyponatremia tends to be associated with more severe symptoms than overhydration including:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Brain damage or dysfunction
  • Coma or death (in rare cases)

Why Hydration Is NOT One-Size-Fits-All

We’ve all heard that 8 glasses of water (or about 2 liters of water) a day is the magic number. But that’s really just a general rule of thumb, or starting point, for the amount of water your body needs. Your ideal daily water consumption depends on a variety of factors like your age, weight, physical activity level, and even climate, as well as your overall health. 

So to get enough water, without overhydrating, be mindful of the following factors that affect your individual water needs:

Age: As we age, we tend to lose our ability to sense thirst. And we can become more susceptible to dehydration due to a variety of medical conditions. So your age plays a role in your unique hydration needs.

Body weight / Body Mass Index (BMI): Generally, heavier individuals need more water to stay hydrated because they have more body mass to support and more cells that require water. 

Health status: Certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease or heart failure, can affect the body's ability to regulate fluid balance. That’s why people with certain conditions may need to follow specific hydration guidelines set by their healthcare professional. 

Medications: Some medications, such as diuretics, make you urinate more which can lead to dehydration. Therefore, you may need to drink more water based on specific medications you take. 

Climate: When it’s hot out, what happens? You sweat. Which means you lose more fluids! So in hot, humid climates, you may need to replenish lost fluid with more cold water. 

Physical activity: The more you sweat, the more water (and electrolytes) you need to stay hydrated. So keep a water bottle, or a sports drink, handy. Just don’t chug too much water, too fast!


How To Stay Hydrated WITHOUT Overhydrating

  • Listen to your body. When your body tells you it’s thirsty, drink up!
  • Beware of a dry mouth or throat. Maybe you’re not thirsty, but a dry mouth or throat may be a sign that you need water. 
  • Keep an eye on your urine. Dark yellow, and even brown urine, tends to indicate that you’re dehydrated. A strong odor, or even cloudy appearance, can also be a sign of dehydration. 
  • Be aware of your unique needs. If you’re exercising, you likely need more water and electrolytes. Same goes for if you’re sweating under the summer sun. But those aren’t all of the factors that affect your unique needs. So take a look back at the list of key considerations above if you haven’t already. And in general, shoot for at least 8 glasses a day of clean water. 
  • Pace yourself. Now you know why and when chugging water can be bad for you! If you leave with just one thing, remember this: Pace yourself! 

What About Water Quality?

No matter how much (or how little) water you drink, water quality matters. Because the quality and cleanliness of your water directly impacts your health and safety. That’s why approximately 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water. And the truth is, polluted tap water is regularly detected in ALL 50 states.

Our premium water filters regulate up to 365+ dangerous tap water contaminants, so you never have to worry about what’s in your water. Plus, our intelligent technology does NOT target beneficial minerals so you don’t lose their health benefits. That’s why Clearly Filtered is the best way to hydrate!

So if you want proven protection from common contaminants associated with multiple types of cancer, thyroid issues, and other alarming health conditions, we encourage you to upgrade to Clearly Filtered today. Tap here to shop all of our premium water filtration systems so you always have easy access to the cleanest water!