Risks of Drinking 32 Oz of Water All at Once

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the human body is made up of about 60 percent water, meaning that consuming enough water daily is essential to human life. There are, though, dangers to drinking 32 ounces of water, half a day's recommended amount, at one time.

You’ve probably heard the advice: “Drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day.” While this saying is easy to remember and a good guideline, water consumption needs differ from person to person. (Image: RUNSTUDIO/DigitalVision/GettyImages)

Tip

If a person drinks 32 ounces of water at one time, he or she runs the risk of developing hyponatremia, a condition in which the body's sodium levels are diluted.

Know Your Water Needs

You've probably heard the advice: "Drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day." While this saying is easy to remember and a good guideline, water consumption needs differ from person to person. The Mayo Clinic states that most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty.

A person's daily water needs depend on a variety of factors, such as physical activity, environment, overall health and whether or not you are pregnant. While water needs vary, Mayo Clinic issues the following water intake recommendations:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

If a person consumes 32 ounces of water at once, he or she is consuming about half the daily recommended amount of water. Doing this can result in hyponatremia.

Risks of Hyponatremia

It is possible to overhydrate, and if you do, you can develop a serious condition called hyponatremia. The Mayo Clinic defines hyponatremia as a condition in which the kidneys are unable to excrete excess water. When this happens, the sodium content of your blood is diluted.

As the body's sodium content dilutes, water levels rise, and cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems that range from mild to life-threatening. Hyponatremia occurs when the sodium in your blood falls below 135 mEq/L. (Normal blood sodium levels are between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L).)

The Mayo Clinic states that emergency care should be sought for anyone who develops severe symptoms or signs of this condition. These signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures or loss of consciousness. The treatments for this condition range from cutting back on water consumption to intravenous electrolyte solutions and medications.

Symptoms of hyponatremia include:

Who Is at Risk?

Older adults: Older adults may have more contributing factors for this condition, including age-related changes, taking certain medications and a greater likelihood of developing chronic disease that alter the body's sodium balance.

Those with medical conditions: Medical conditions that may increase the risk of hyponatremia include kidney disease and syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone (SIADH) and congestive heart failure (CHF).

Participants in intense activities: Athletes — especially those who participate in long or intense workouts or endurance events — are at higher risk of hyponatremia.

Preventative Measures to Take

Treat underlying conditions: The Mayo Clinic recommends that those at risk for hyponatremia seek treatment for problems that contribute to the condition, such as adrenal gland insufficiency. Treating these underlying conditions can help prevent low blood sodium.

Drink water in moderation: Mayo Clinic's site states that thirst and the color of your urine are usually the best indications of how much water you need. If a person is not thirsty and his or her urine is pale yellow, that person is likely drinking enough water. Consuming a 32-ounce drink of water at once can throw off your body's electrolyte balance, negatively impacting your health.

Try a sports beverage: During intense exercise, try replacing water with sports beverages that contain electrolytes to rebalance your sodium levels. Drink sports beverages in moderation. Consuming Gatorade with 32 ounces all at once can also negatively affect your sodium levels.

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