8 signs you're drinking too much water

Sergio Perez/ReutersStaying hydrated is important — but there’s such a thing as drinking too much water.
  • Drinking water is crucial. But it’s possible to drink too much water and become overhydrated.
  • Overhydration can lead to falling electrolyte levels, which can cause headaches, nausea, and muscle weakness.
  • If your lips, hands, and feet are swollen you may be drinking too much water.
  • If, after drinking a lot of water, you begin to experience confusion or deliciousness, you may want to seek immediate medical attention.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Water is vital to the human body and staying hydrated should be a top priority for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can, however, actually take your quest for hydration too far.

Drinking too much water can cause side effects that range from mildly irritating to life-threatening – and overhydration can lead to an imbalance of electrolytes in the body.

Electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium help regulate everything from your kidneys to your heart function. If you consume too much water, there may not be enough of these electrolytes in your body to keep it functioning properly.

Here are a few signs your water intake may be too high.

Keep in mind that although some of the symptoms listed below could be attributed to overhydration, they could also be the result of other medical conditions or issues. When in doubt, consult with your doctor.


You’re drinking water even when you’re not thirsty.

Sean Gallup / GettyImagesAllow your natural thirst to be your guide in most situations.

Some experts believe that many people meet their daily water needs by simply letting their thirst tell them when to drink.

So if you’re chugging water even when you’re not thirsty, you could be drinking more than your body needs.

Though it’s important to increase your water intake if you’re engaging in strenuous physical activity or outside in hot weather, allow your natural thirst to be your guide in most situations.


Your urine is completely clear.

gpointstudio/ iStockIn most cases, urine should ideally be a pale-yellow colour.

You might know that dark-coloured urine can be a sign of dehydration, but that doesn’t mean that you should aim to produce urine that’s completely clear.

According to Healthline, pale-yellow urine that looks like lemonade indicates a healthy level of hydration.

Colourless urine, on the other hand, might mean that you are overhydrated and need to reduce your water intake.


You get up multiple times during the night to urinate.

Gengwit Wattakawigran/ShutterstockTalk to your doctor if you’re frequently having to get out of bed.

Most people urinate six or seven times every 24 hours, according to Medical News Today.

If you find yourself urinating more frequently than that and needing to wake up at night to use the bathroom, you may be drinking too much water.

Other conditions such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, prostate problems, and pelvic-floor weakness can also cause frequent urination, so talk to your doctor if you notice yourself peeing much more than usual.


Your feet, hands, or lips are swollen.

Shutterstock/Yeko Photo StudioYour body might be retaining excess fluid.

One sign that you’re experiencing an electrolyte imbalance is swelling in the hands, feet, or lips.

According to the MSD Manual, drinking too much water can lead to low levels of sodium in the blood. This can cause the body’s cells to swell and retain fluid.

In some cases, the cells in the tissues of the face or extremities feel or look puffy if you’ve been drinking too much water.


You have a lingering headache and experience nausea.

Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDERA consistent throbbing headache could be due to brain swelling.

According to WebMD, when you drink too much water you can develop low levels of sodium in your blood that can cause headaches and nausea.


Your muscles feel shaky or weak.

iStockIf you feel shaky for no real reason, you may want to talk to a doctor.

Drinking too much water can cause muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps, according to the Mayo Clinic. These symptoms may arise when the sodium in your blood becomes diluted.

If you notice shakiness or pain in your arms and legs that don’t seem related to physical exertion, it could be a sign that you are overly hydrated and lacking vital electrolytes.

If your muscle pain or weakness continues even after you’ve reduced your water intake, it’s worth checking in with a doctor.


You’re constantly feeling fatigued and tired.

Crystal Cox/InsiderFatigue can also be the result of a poor diet.

If you’re getting enough sleep but still feel tired, one possible cause might be overhydration.

Per Mayo Clinic, drinking too much water can result in a loss of energy, drowsiness, or a constant feeling of fatigue due to the creation of an electrolyte imbalance within the body.

Try cutting back on excessive water intake to see if overhydration might be causing your lingering fatigue.


You experience confusion or disorientation.

iStockIf you feel confused and disoriented after drinking a lot of water, you may want to seek out medical attention.

One sign of overhydration or water intoxication is a feeling of confusion or disorientation. This is linked to falling levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, in the body.

In extreme cases, drinking too much water and lowering the sodium concentration in your blood can cause your brain to swell dangerously.

If you begin experiencing symptoms, like confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness you may want to seek immediate medical attention.

Read More:

How much water are you supposed to drink a day, debunking the 8 cups-a-day myth

10 easy tricks for drinking more water

I drink a gallon of water a day – here are my tips for staying well hydrated

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.