Dr. Imran Ali: When Hydration May Be Too Much

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Dr. Imran Ali is back with us to share how much water is enough and are we drinking more water than our bodies actually need?

Water is essential, in fact we all have 55-60 % total body water and I have treated many patients who are what we call volume depleted. Dehydration due to vomiting or diarrhea account for a lot of illness. But like anything moderation is key. Fluids especially such as water can lead to what we call Hyponatremia which is a fancy word for low sodium or salt in the blood.

Normal levels of sodium in the blood ranges between 135 to 145 milimoles and that is what your doctor measures in a routine blood test.  When the sodium drops below 135 or more often below 130 is when we get worried. You see salt controls the flow of water kind of like a dog on a leash. When your blood is water logged the water leaves the blood and goes into the cells where the little salt you have remains.

The main thing is that your kidneys have to flush out all this excess water and they can be overwhelmed especially if you have kidney disease. See the all this excess plan water can dilute the amount salt in in the blood. The kidneys can usually handle up to 1 L of fluid per hour. It is all about the rate at which you drink the water. The rule of thumb is to simply drink water when you feel thirsty. The kidneys have a very complex way of activating your thirst reflex when you are dehydrated. In those who have bad kidneys this thirst reflex doesn’t work. Multiple studies done at Dartmouth Medical School found that there is no evidence that drinking 8 glasses of water a day is essential if you are not thirsty.

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