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Why Does Drinking Water Make Me Feel Sick?

Feeling nauseous after you drink water?

There are many reasons why you might feel sick after sipping from a glass of water. If it’s not the actual water itself, then what could be causing this reaction?

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what is making you feel nauseous after drinking water, but there are some common culprits that may cause your stomach to turn.

You might want to consider these possibilities if you find yourself feeling sick every time you have a sip of H2O.

why does drinking water make me feel sick?

What is Nausea?

Nausea is the feeling that you need to vomit.  It’s a subjective sensation, which means that everyone experiences it differently.  

Some common outward signs of nausea include:

  • Excessive salivation (also known as “water mouth”)
  • Gagging
  • Increased tearing in the eyes
  • Pale skin
  • Feel dizzy

What Causes Nausea?

There are many potential causes of nausea according to Healthline.com.

In most cases, drinking plain water is not the root cause of feeling sick to your stomach.

But there are some common things that may make you feel nauseous, such as:

Medications: Many medications can induce nausea.  Antibiotics, sedatives, and chemo drugs are all commonly known to cause nausea in some people.

Motion sickness: Many people experience motion sickness from being in situations where they are not able to see that their body is not actually moving. Consuming water can exacerbate this feeling.

Stomach flu: Sometimes just having a drink of water can be the cause of nausea if you have a stomach flu.  The sudden urge to vomit happens because consuming anything will irritate your digestive system.

Food poisoning: Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, is caused by one of several different types of bacteria or viruses.

How Can Water Cause Nausea?

So how can water lead to feelings of sickness or the urge to throw up? Here are some common possibilities.

Drinking Too Fast

drinking water can cause nausea

When drinking too much water, especially in a short amount of time, you run the risk of having your stomach and intestines absorb too much liquid at once.

This can lead to feelings of nausea because it disturbs your body’s internal equilibrium.

If you drink too much water without giving yourself the appropriate amount of time to digest it, then you are more likely to have the symptoms of feeling sick.

Stomach Is Already Full

If your stomach is already full of other food or if you have recently eaten a meal, drinking lots of water can make it harder for your digestive system to process.

If you drink a large quantity of liquid while your stomach is still digesting a particularly heavy meal, then drinking too much water can quickly lead to feelings of nausea and may even cause you to vomit.

Drinking During Exercise

Nausea can happen because you have been drinking excessively during a workout.

Many people drink too much water when exercising without realizing that drinking more than a few glasses of liquid at once can slow your body’s ability to process the liquid and can cause your stomach to start feeling sick.

The motion of heavy exercise with a full stomach can also lead to a nauseous or bloated feeling.

Stomach Is Too Empty

It’s important to eat something substantial before drinking large quantities of liquid, even if that means drinking small sips at a time.

This is because drinking water on an empty stomach can cause your body to start absorbing the water before it’s had a chance to properly digest your food.

Water can also trigger your stomach to act hungrier and produce stomach acid because it is receiving water but not the food it craves.

Dehydration

Another reason water makes you nauseous is because you may be dehydrated, meaning that your body needs more than it’s getting from the water alone.

This can lead to dehydration that affects how your brain regulates the amount of fluid in your body.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, dehydration can make you feel fatigued, dizzy, or even pass out. Nausea is a common side effect of these other symptoms.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes are minerals that you need to survive.

When there is an imbalance in your body, you might feel tired, have a hard time going to the bathroom, or have nausea.

This is more common if you have a lot of exercise or if you are sick or taking certain medicines like diuretics and antibiotics for kidney disease.

You can get these necessary minerals from food or a sports drink but drinking too much plain water may increase feelings of nausea without replacing the missing electrolytes.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is one of the most common symptoms during pregnancy and drinking water can exacerbate this feeling.

Many women find that drinking too much water on an empty stomach – or drinking anything on an empty stomach – only makes their morning sickness symptoms worse.

Medical Conditions

If drinking water is one of your symptoms for a certain condition, drinking too much water could be making the problem worse. For example, drinking water can be an issue if you have kidney disease or cirrhosis.

According to Healthline.com, if you are prone to heartburn, acid reflux, GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) or other conditions involving stomach acid, drinking excessive water is not recommended.

Drinking excessively can cause you to swallow more acid than normal and it can also cause your esophagus to swell, which further worsens the symptoms of feeling nauseous after drinking.

Water Contamination

water makes me nauseous

Feeling sick after drinking can be a sign of drinking contaminated water.

You may want to check the purity of your water for some of these common problems that can affect the human body in many ways, including stomach pain, stomach upset, digestive disorders, and nausea.

Even municipal water systems that provide purified water can still contain harmful toxic substances that can worsen nausea.

Bacteria

Bacterial contamination is a very common source of poisoned drinking water around the world.

If your tap water comes from a well, it is more likely that you are drinking bacteria contaminated water.

Common water-borne bacteria include E. Coli, Salmonella, and Cholera.

Mold

Drinking water that is contaminated with mold can also cause nausea.

Molds are usually only found in water that has been left sitting for a few days or if you have old plumbing.

Viruses

Some water is also polluted with viruses, such as Norovirus and rotavirus, which causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines).

Algae

Water that has algae in it is also more likely to make you sick.

Algae can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

When toxic algae blooms occur in a natural water source, it can be hard to remove before it reaches your tap.

Heavy Metals

Some water is also contaminated with heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.

If you drink water that has lead in it, this can make you sick.

If your water is contaminated with mercury, drinking it can affect your central nervous system seriously enough to cause feelings of sickness or nausea.

Other Contaminates

A water supply that is contaminated with chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers may also cause nausea after you drink water.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are one of the most common tap water contaminants.

VOCs include herbicides, pesticides, gasoline components, and other chemicals that easily evaporate into air.

Drinking water contaminated with VOCs can make you sick because these toxins are not good for your body overall.

How Can I Prevent Nausea After Drinking Water?

You don’t have to give up drinking water in order to avoid feeling nauseous after drinking it.  There are some things that you can do to make water a more enjoyable experience and relieve nausea.

Drink Water Slower

Gradually drinking a glass of water over the course of several minutes will help your body adjust to the intake of liquid.  Taking small sips may decrease feelings of nausea that you might have had by drinking faster.

Also, make sure to drink small amounts on a consistent basis throughout the day. This will avoid water sloshing around inside.

For example, drinking about six glasses of water a day is a healthy goal, but drinking all those glasses in one sitting is not.

Drink After Eating

drink after eating

If you have a very empty stomach, you should satisfy your hunger before drinking lots of water.

When your stomach is relatively full, drinking water won’t interfere with digestion as much and may cause less nausea.

Allow yourself about 30 minutes to digest food before drinking a large amount of fluids.

Add Salts

Adding a small amount of salt or a drink mix containing electrolytes to your drinking water can also prevent nausea because it helps increase the overall concentration of liquid in your bloodstream.

Mineral water also contains natural salts.

This can make drinking water less taxing on your body and stop you from feeling sick to your stomach after drinking it.

Try Flavored Water

Drink water that is flavored with lemon, fruit, herbs, or tea can help you to enjoy drinking more water, which will increase your chances of drinking enough throughout the day.

Many natural flavors promote calm and help settle an upset stomach, so adding flavors can prevent you from feeling nauseous after drinking water.

Drink Sparkling Water

Drinking sparkling or carbonated water may also help because it contains bubbles that mimic drinking soda, which can trick your body into thinking you have been drinking something slightly more exciting.

The carbon dioxide in the water will also increase the amount of fluid in your bloodstream and may help prevent feelings of nausea when drinking too much at once.

Carbonation will also help you to burp up any air that has built up in your stomach.  This can prevent a build-up of pressure and discomfort, which can also help you feel better after drinking water.

Water Testing

If your tap water tastes or smells strange, you should have it checked for contamination and try to find a better source of drinking water if possible.

It can be hard to tell if your drinking water is safe without having it yourself tested by a professional. Once you have your water tested, you can be sure there are no potentially harmful germs or pollution.

You can avoid contaminated water that makes you feel sick by switching to another water source, buying bottled water, drinking distilled water, or using a drinking water filter to remove the contaminants.

Change Your Water Temperature

If drinking cold water makes you feel sick, try drinking room temperature water. Your body may have an easier time processing warm water.

Cold water is more satisfying if you are hot or have been exercising, but it can shock the stomach, requires more energy to warm, and constricts blood vessels. These can lead you to feel nauseous.

There is Hope

drinking water for good health

We all know that drinking water is important for our health. It helps to flush toxins from the body, regulate fluid balance, and even maintain a healthy weight. 

Many people assume that it is “just water” and there is no way it can cause problems, but this is simply not the case…

If you find that you feel nauseous after having a drink of water, there is hope!

Review the possible causes and tips above. Hopefully, they will help you to relieve nausea from drinking water and stay both healthy and happy.