Water is critical to your survival and wellbeing, but hyponatremia—an abnormally low concentration of sodium in your blood caused by drinking too much water—can result in serious health complications. In fact, the condition can even be fatal. Moreover, drinking too much water can trigger stress in your body, eventually resulting in adrenal fatigue.
What Happens to Your Body During Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication, refers to a condition in which you suffer from an abnormally low concentrations of sodium in your blood. Sodium is an important electrolyte that helps regulate the amount of water in your body, but when your sodium levels are too low your body’s ability to maintain the right water levels is compromised.
Several factors can contribute to this condition. It can occur if you suffer from certain medical conditions that cause your sodium levels to become significantly diluted. However, the condition may simply be the result of drinking too much water.
Without a doubt, drinking water is absolutely vital to daily living. After all, the human body is made up of around 60 percent water. Indeed, water plays a critical role in various functions, including body temperature regulation, and in addition keeps the tissues of your body moist and acts as both a cushion and lubricant for your joints.
Hyponatremia can have serious consequences on your health. Drinking too much water causes excess liquid to move into your cells leading to swelling, which triggers inflammation. As a consequence, your brain may also swell, which can be extremely dangerous.
Moreover, drinking too much water can lead to dangerously low sodium levels and trigger hyponatremia. According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, unless swallowing inhibition occurs—increased effort required to swallow—in order to regulate your water intake following the excess intake of water, hyponatremia will result and may lead to death.
Drinking Too Much Water and Stress
Drinking too much water can also trigger stress within your body. Your kidneys are typically responsible for filtering the water you drink and making sure fluid levels remain balanced in your bloodstream. However, drinking too much water places stress on your kidneys and forces them to work harder.
Typically, your body responds to stress via the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, composed of six key circuits including the detoxification circuit. The kidneys play a central role in the detoxification process, so if your kidneys are overworked by drinking too much water, your detoxification circuit can be drastically affected. In addition, your kidneys will also be unable to perform their regular functions leading to additional stress.
As your body continues to take in too much water, your kidneys are forced to excrete the excess fluid. But since your fluid output is now be greater than your fluid intake, this is interpreted by your hypothalamus as the need for more water, so the sensation of thirst is continuously recreated. In response, your adrenal glands and the posterior pituitary gland release hormones that stimulate your kidneys to reabsorb fluid from waste products—your urine. Furthermore, as fluid moves out of your blood vessels, your blood pressure can drop to a dangerously low level because there are not enough electrolytes and salt in your bloodstream to maintain healthy fluid levels.
If your kidneys are unable to perform their role in the detoxification circuit, the rest of your interconnected NEM stress response circuits may also be compromised. Moreover, overworking any organ in your body can lead to severe hormonal imbalances, which is especially true for the hormone aldosterone, produced by your adrenals to maintain fluid balance in your body. If fluid levels continue to rise, your adrenals will no longer be able to produce enough aldosterone to meet demands, resulting in a significant hormonal imbalance that could trigger Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Tips for a Maintaining a Proper Water Drinking Schedule
As you can see, hyponatremia can pose a serious threat to your overall health and may even lead to the development of adrenal fatigue. To avoid this, it’s recommended that you drink the right amount of water throughout the day to match your body’s needs. To do this, it is best to follow a water drinking schedule.
Here are some tips you can follow to help guide you. However, it’s also recommended that you consult with your physician for advice on the right water intake schedule for you. This is particularly important if you are currently taking any medications that may affect your sodium and fluid levels.
That being said, here are some basic guidelines on proper water intake to get you started.
Drink water soon as you wake up
This can help activate your internal organs.
Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before each meal
Drinking water around 30 minutes before your meals can aid digestion.
Drink a glass of water before taking a bath
This can help lower your blood pressure.
Drink a glass of water before you go to sleep
This can help replenish any fluids you may have lost throughout the day.
Follow these tips and you should be able to prevent hyponatremia fairly easily and avoid placing stress on your body. Always keep in mind that your body must be properly hydrated to function optimally. Staying properly hydrated will give you the best chance of fighting stress and recovering from adrenal fatigue. Thus, it’s equally important to drink enough water on a regular basis as to not drink an excess amount of water.
© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
How can hyponatremia cause adrenal fatigue?
The kidneys are typically responsible for filtering the water you ingest and maintaining your body’s fluid balance. Hyponatremia can cause your kidneys to become overworked and place them under stress. If this stress becomes chronic, it can cause hormonal imbalances and may eventually trigger adrenal fatigue.