I’m absolutely guilty of drinking all my water in one go every time. I just sip and sip and sip until it’s all gone. I can’t help it. I end up fully hydrated, but I do have to visit the restroom often. However, my husband repeatedly mentions the possibility of water intoxication or overhydration. While I tend to drink my water all at once, I don’t think I drink enough bottles of water for that to happen—still, with so many people pushing to drink more and more water, it’s no surprise that there’s been a few cases of water intoxication over the past few years.

Water intoxication happens when the kidneys can’t handle all the water that comes into your system. They go “Hey! There’s some water here we don’t need. Better send it to the bladder.” Then you have to use the bathroom. But when there’s too much water all at once, they can’t process it all and what doesn’t get processed travels through the blood to cells around the body, causing the cells to swell. Not all cells (like those in the brain) have the room to swell and things go very wrong when they do.

So how much water is enough? That honestly depends on the person’s body, daily activity, and place of living. The standard usually holds true as a minimum: 8 glasses of water every day (64 oz or about 2 litres).  Men tend to need more than women and people living at higher altitudes or in hotter climates will need to replace what they sweat off more frequently. And of course those people who are more active, sweating more, are going to need more water. However, this doesn’t really take into account how much fluid you get from other beverages or the things you eat such as fruits and vegetables. So you are probably more hydrated than you think you are.

At the end of the day, your body will give signals that you are dehydrated and need more water, but it’s probably still a good idea to keep a bottle of water in arm’s reach to sip on throughout the day.

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