When it comes to staying hydrated, more is not always better. Drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication, also called hyponatremia, which occurs when the level of salt in your body becomes too diluted. When this happens, your cells begin to swell, which can cause serious neurological symptoms that can be fatal.
Water intoxication is most common in children and elderly adults, but it can also occur in athletes and other people who drink large amounts of water without replenishing their electrolytes. Symptoms of water intoxication include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures, and coma.
To prevent water intoxication, drink small amounts of water frequently throughout the day and avoid drinking large amounts of water all at once. If you are exercising or sweating profusely, be sure to replace your electrolytes with a sports drink or other electrolyte-replenishing beverage. If you have any medical conditions that cause you to urinate frequently or produce large amounts of urine, be sure to speak with your doctor about how much water you should be drinking.