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Dehydration vs overhydration: what you need to know to stay healthy

Dehydration and overhydration can both have significant impacts on your health and well-being. Picture: Nicolas Ruiz /Unsplash.

Dehydration and overhydration can both have significant impacts on your health and well-being. Picture: Nicolas Ruiz /Unsplash.

Published Jun 7, 2023


Did you know that there’s a sweet spot between being too thirsty and drowning in liquids?

It’s called optimal hydration, and it's the key to the balance of our overall health.

When the temperature drops, we find ourselves needing to add more layers of clothing and switch on the heaters. Either drinking more hot fluids or almost none at all.

Dehydration and overhydration are two sides of the same coin, and finding the right balance keeps our bodies running smoothly.

But be warned, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. Drinking too much water can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can be quite dangerous. By paying attention to our bodies and staying in tune with our hydration levels, we can achieve the perfect balance and stay on top of our game.

Dehydration and overhydration are two conditions that can have significant impacts on our overall health and well-being. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and potential risks associated with each is essential for maintaining optimal hydration levels.

Drinking too much water can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can be quite dangerous.Picture by Sandra Seitamaa /Unsplash

The National Institute of Health has published a new study on hydration and ageing that suggests poor hydration accelerates ageing and can even increase mortality risk.

Dehydration vs overhydration: What you need to know for optimal hydration

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. This can happen due to a variety of factors, including excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, or simply not drinking enough fluids.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, dehydration can lead to a range of negative effects on cognitive and physical performance, including headaches, fatigue, and reduced endurance.

Even though overhydration is rare, it can still occur. You may experience this if you consume too much water, if your kidneys retain too much water, or if you suffer from certain illnesses like liver disease, according to a recent post by Healthline.

On the other hand, overhydration occurs when the body takes in more fluids than it can eliminate. This can happen when individuals consume excessive amounts of water or other fluids, or when they have a medical condition that affects fluid balance, such as kidney disease.

Overhydration can lead to swelling, high blood pressure, and other health complications.

Symptoms of overhydration can include nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, seizures, and swelling in the hands and feet.

To maintain optimal hydration levels, it is important to drink enough fluids throughout the day and to pay attention to your body's signals of thirst.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should aim to drink about 3.7 litres of water per day, while women should aim for about 2.7 litres per day.

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. As a result, the body does not have enough water to function properly, leading to symptoms such as thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, and headaches.

Studies have found that dehydration can negatively impact cognitive function, mood, and physical performance. Even mild dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive performance and increased fatigue.

In severe cases, dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be life-threatening.

So, how can we maintain optimal hydration?

The first step is to pay attention to our bodies and drink fluids when we are thirsty. Studies suggest also monitoring the colour of our urine, as pale yellow urine indicates that we are properly hydrated while darker urine may indicate dehydration.

Additionally, drinking water and other hydrating fluids such as coconut water and herbal teas can also help to maintain optimal hydration.

It is important to note, however, that our water needs may vary based on factors such as physical activity, climate, and individual health needs.

Listen to your bodies and adjust your fluid intake accordingly. But it is more important to maintain a delicate balance between dehydration and overhydration.