Everybody knows water is good for you—but sometimes, it just doesn’t sit right in your stomach. Whether this is an ongoing issue for you, or a recent development, let’s look at some possible reasons why water makes you nauseous and what you can do about it.
If drinking water makes you nauseous, try adding flavors, sipping it more gradually, eating before you drink, trying different temperatures of water, hydrating with foods (like fruit), and adding electrolytes. If those tips don’t help, talk to your doctor about medical conditions that could be causing the issue.
Below, I’ll explore 8 common reasons why drinking water could make you nauseous, along with detailed tips on how to stop feeling like you’re going to vomit when you drink water!
8 Reasons Drinking Water Makes You Feel Sick
Nausea from drinking water can have many different causes, and it can be hard to figure out on your own. That said, below are 8 of the common explanations. Take a look at these, and see if any jump out at you.
1. Nausea From Dehydration
Nausea and dizziness are two of the common symptoms of dehydration. So, ironically, being dehydrated can actually make it more difficult and unpleasant to drink water, the thing you theoretically need!
Also, if you know you’re dehydrated, you might start drinking water too fast. And then all that water at once can also make you feel a bit nauseous (see the point below about drinking too fast).
2. Morning Sickness (During Pregnancy)
Morning sickness typically occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy. In most cases, the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness are one of the first signs that a woman is pregnant.
You might feel this nausea in particular after drinking water. But there are plenty of tactics that pregnant women can use to drink enough water to support their growing babies-to-be. See the list of tips below for some of the best.
3. Too Much in Your Stomach
Sometimes, if you drink too much water along with a meal, you can get uncomfortably full, and it can cause a sort of nausea.
So if that fits the description for what happened to you… now you know. Just take it easy from packing so much food and fluids in your stomach at once!
4. Drinking Water On an Empty Stomach
It’s somewhat common to feel a bit nauseous after drinking a lot of water on an empty stomach. Why is this? Some explanations have to do with the water diluting your stomach acid, and potentially aggravating conditions like acid reflux.
I know for myself, the feeling of hunger can almost turn into a feeling of nausea if I add a bunch of water sloshing around in my stomach. I’m honestly not sure of the scientific explanation for it.
5. Too Much Water, Not Enough Electrolytes
If you’re feeling nauseous after drinking large quantities of water—many liters in a day—then it could be that you’re consuming too much water without the proper electrolytes to go with it.
This actually happened to me once. I was outside in the heat all day, sweating. I drank a lot of water, but I didn’t replace the sodium I was sweating out. As a result, I got “heat exhaustion via salt depletion.” There was some nausea in the mix, along with other symptoms.
Now, if I know I’m going to consume a large quantity of water throughout the day, I make sure to eat some salty foods or add a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade for the extra electrolytes.
6. Drinking Too Quickly
Most people can do just fine when drinking a large glass of water, but some people do struggle with all the water in their stomach at once.
Since water only slowly exits your stomach, you might want to try just sipping a little bit at a time, and let it empty out of your stomach a bit before drinking a bunch more.
7. Medical Conditions
If drinking water keeps making you feel sick, you may want to speak to a physician and see if it could be a symptom of a broader issue.
Some conditions that could be related to nausea from water: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), nonacid reflux disease, pregnancy, pancreatic disease, chronic stress, or others.
8. Contaminated Water
If you’re only getting nauseous with a particular water source—like the tap water at your home—then it could be something in that specific water.
Contaminants could include: Bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) from the petroleum industry, or others.
Keep in mind, as well, that some of these contaminants may cause nauseous that is not instantaneous when you drink the water. If you’re feeling instant nausea from all water you drink from all sources, then I would not suspect contamination as the top suspect.
How Do I Stop Feeling Sick After Drinking Water? 9 Tips
Here are some tips to try that should help reduce your nausea when drinking water.
1. Take Small Sips Throughout the Day.
This is standard advice that you may have heard before. But if you haven’t given it a try, then start here. Just take small sips, pausing for a few seconds between each.
When you drink a whole glass of water at once, it sits in your stomach longer—but when you just sip it slowly, it can absorb through the lining of your stomach and not cause as much of a disruption to the environment in your stomach.
2. Try Infused and Flavored Water.
Many people find that they can tolerate water much better with flavor added. This could be from a piece of lemon or other fruit, a splash of juice, or a sweetened product like Mio Vitamins or Crystal Light.
It make take a few tries to find a flavoring or infusion that you like both from a taste and nutrition perspective. If you don’t like the idea of consuming artificial sweeteners, then try natural fruit-based options.
Another option would be making tea and sipping that throughout the day. A lot of kinds of tea are great for your health, so no concerns there.
3. Eat Before You Drink Water.
Many people have a problem drinking water on an empty stomach, especially in the morning—but they can handle it much better after eating some food.
So start with some food. Then sip some water gradually as you eat, or after the meal.
4. Hydrate With Water-Rich Foods Instead.
A lot of people don’t realize how much water is actually contained in fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and veggies are actually over 80% or 90% composed of water. (source)
So if you can’t get much water down by itself, focus on getting plenty of fruits and veggies. They’ll help rehydrate you, too, with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants coming along with it.
You can also consume high-water meals like soups and smoothies. Typically these dishes contain cups of water in the recipe, but the end result is flavored and easy to take.
5. Try Different Sources of Bottled, Distilled, or Purified Water.
If you’re just feeling nauseous from tap water, or one particular water source, then try some bottled water options and water purifiers.
Some people seem to be bothered by minerals or chemicals that are present in small amounts in tap water. But different methods of purifying and distilling could remove those elements that are causing you problems.
One person on a forum mentioned how she can’t drink spring water comfortably, but distilled water is okay for her. Another person mentioned that the purified self-filling water stations at Wal-Mart don’t seem to cause nauseousness.
6. Add Some Salt / Electrolytes.
I’ve heard multiple people recommend this, as it works for them.
One person recommended putting a pinch of sea salt on your tongue before drinking the water. Another person mentioned stirring a bit of salt into your water along with some lemon juice.
It can’t hurt to try this—adding a pinch of salt to a glass of water can also help with hydration and water absorption, since sodium and water tend to be stored together in our bodies. So it’s a win-win.
7. Try Carbonated Water.
Some people say that flat water makes them nauseous but carbonated drinks are just fine.
Of course, you don’t want to switch to drinking soda all day—that’s too much sugar. But have you tried seltzer water, mineral water, or club soda?
These carbonated water options are pretty healthy. They could potential wear on your enamel over time if you’re drinking them all day, every day—but I wouldn’t be too concerned about it, if it’s helping you stay hydrated.
Seltzer water has been found to be 100 times less damaging than soda to your teeth, after all! (source)
8. Try a Different Temperature of Water.
For some people, warm water makes them feel sick, but cold water doesn’t. For others, the reverse is true—cold water makes them nauseous, but room temperature water is okay.
Test different temperatures, and take note if any of them are much more (or less) tolerable to you.
9. Talk to Your Doctor.
If you keep feeling sick when drinking water, talk to your physician or healthcare provider. It could potentially be due to an issue with your stomach acid or other broader issues.
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