It’s a real epidemic, drinking too much water. The other day I was speaking with a trusted colleague about a recent patient in my practice who I attributed her nervous bladder and frequent UTI’s to drinking too much water. She turned to me with a blank stare. Turns out my colleague is also a 4-liter a day water drinker. I began to wonder to the past where I’d see my patients with large water bottles accompanying them to the exam office as if to die of thirst have they not be able to drink water for one hour. Some have it with them at all times, like their keys. Can’t leave home without it. It’s even wrong to carry insanely large water bottles to doctors office or anywhere else for that matter. We’re not deprived of water, so any excessive act of drinking water may be an obsession.

Going back to my patient with frequent infections and pain; she was going to the bathroom numerous times during the day and night. We have an innate ability to sleep, to point of sedation every single night. Our bladders shut off, the brain signals the muscles to stop contracting, organs become very very quiet, and the brain finally has the chance to unwind and and enjoy some interesting dreams. If you have to wake up 5 times during this very protected human state of sleep, then you’re asking your bladder to work too hard and your kidneys to loose their concentrating abilities. The brain then looses control and the bladder wins.

Too much water can be bad for you.

My colleague drinks a lot because she’s very active, driving from one hospital to the next. Four liters a day may not be excessive for her. Nor may it be excessive for someone who is jogging couple of miles a day or is outdoors working on the yard. My point is that 8 glasses a day, which is the amount widely famous for ideal water intake, could be the worst advice ever. Our teenage girls are thought to drink excess water to keep a thin body. Patients with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or addictive personality become trapped in their habits, then develop unusual health problems related to water intoxication, or overflow incontinence. This is a real problem, I’ve seen such patients and they’re not as uncommon as we think or discern.

Doctors aren’t picking it up because they don’t have time to ask detailed questions, in addition to the fact that we aren’t taught much about nutrition in medical schools. I only know this from a sub specialty related to water homeostasis in the body, and years of experience practicing on the Westside.

My advice: drink when you’re thirsty. When your body craves for water. When you sweat, run, chase something, or work outdoors. Replenish with water when you haven’t had a regular movement in more than 2 days. Or if you start to see dry scaly skin. The amount is based on your individual needs, some accomplish that in 4 glasses, some 12.

Don’t drink if you start negatively affecting your body with excess water. Take the advice of your physician and start recovering from harmful habits.