(NEW YORK) -- It's summer, which means it's hot and you need to be drinking more water than usual when you're outside. But as important as it is to stay hydrated, is it possible to drink too much water?
The short answer is yes. A newly-released statement by a 17-expert panel suggests the conventional wisdom about when and how much water to drink may be the recipe for overhydration, also known as hyponatremia, as reported by The Huffington Post.
Hyponatremia, which is most common in endurance athletes, is a condition that can happen when you drink so much, your blood becomes diluted. And it can kill.
"Symptoms can be very vague and not unlike symptoms one might experience after running a race or performing any athletic event [including] fatigue, even confusion or exhaustion," says Dr. James Winger, a sports medicine doctor at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
Here are four beliefs you need to re-think to avoid overhydration:
1. Feeling thirsty doesn't mean you're dehydrated. Thirst is a sign your body's working to conserve water, not that you’ve run out of it. Winger says serious issues caused by dehydration are harder to come by than one may think, so there’s no need to stop at every water station along a marathon run.
2. Your performance will not suffer if you aren’t 100 percent hydrated. "There's growing evidence that mild to moderate dehydration has no effect on performance in many different sporting endeavors," Winger says. "We need to look at dehydration as a natural part of exercise, not necessarily something to prevent."
3. Your urine color doesn't need to be pale or clear. "If you're trying to dilute your urine, you're probably putting yourself into an overhydrated state," notes Winger, stating that urine color is not the best indicator of urine concentration.
4. Muscle cramps don't always mean you're dehydrated. There's research that shows that muscle cramps have more to do with fatigue.
Bottom line: Winger and his colleagues say drinking when you're thirsty is generally a safe way to go.
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