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Drink Only When Thirsty, Experts Say

Do you drink even if you’re not thirsty? While hydration is essential, especially when you’re sweating too much, excessive drinking can be bad for your health. According to experts, fluid overconsumption can be fatal, urging athletes not to drink unless it is necessary, and that is, only when thirsty.

Drinking too much liquid causes the condition known as exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH). For individuals who have too much to drink, their kidneys will experience difficulty excreting the excess water. This will result in the dangerous swelling in the kidney cells due to the dilution of the body’s sodium.

Symptoms of EAH include nausea and puffiness. In severe cases, there is the risk of seizure, coma or death. Athletes are not the only victims. There have been reported cases of people who engaged in strenuous activity who have fallen prey to EAH; hikers and runners are among these people.

To avoid the risks of EAH, experts advised to just follow the “natural thirst stimulus.”

“Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration,” the report stated.

Contrary to misconception, dehydration is not associated with heat stroke as well as muscle cramps. Dr. James Winger, an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, explained that heat stroke occurs because the body is producing too much heat.

Dr. Winger added our bodies can handle dehydration, losing up to 3 percent of our bodyweight, yet without compromising performance. His advice: Don’t drink until you are truly thirsty.