Why Does Drinking Water Make Me Nauseous?

water makes me nauseous

Water is essential to survival, so if your tap water is making you nauseous, that definitely isn’t ideal.

Feeling nauseous after drinking water will make you less likely to want to drink, as your brain will associate a glass of water with an unpleasant sick feeling.

Your drinking water itself might not be the cause of your nausea. If you do feel sick after sipping from a glass of water, there are plenty of reasons why this might occur.

Read on to learn more about why you might feel nauseous after drinking.

🤢 Nausea Overview

Nausea can come about for all manner of reasons. It can be a sign of acid reflux, or you might feel sick when you’re traveling.

Nausea and anxiety are also linked. It’s common to feel nauseous after a particularly tough workout, when you’re pregnant, or on a very hot day. You might feel occasionally nauseous for absolutely no reason whatsoever – just a temporary imbalance inside your body.

Commonly, nausea is associated with viruses and bacterial infections such as gastritis. In this case, it’ll usually be accompanied by other symptoms, like the urge to vomit. Vomiting and nausea can also be a sign that something more serious is going on, such as a digestive condition or appendicitis.

As you can see, nausea can be a sign of a broad range of health conditions – or nothing at all!

This makes it difficult to determine why you might be feeling sick.

However, there are some causes of nausea after drinking water that you may be able to figure out.

🤔 Does Feeling Nauseous After Drinking Water Always Indicate a Problem?

No, nausea after drinking isn’t always an indication that something is wrong – but it’s wise to be concerned on some level if this is out of the norm for you.

You should seek professional medical advice to determine the issue, especially if you’re also feeling nauseous when you eat, you’re experiencing other new symptoms, or the problem has been ongoing for more than a few days.

A doctor can run tests to diagnose an issue, or simply reassure you that health-wise, you’re fine, and offer solutions to the problem.

nausea after drinking water

🩺 What Causes Nausea After Drinking Water?

Stomach is Full

When your stomach is already full of food, stretching it even further with a glass of water is likely to make you feel nauseous. It’s best not to drink a lot of water after a particularly large meal – or you should at least wait half an hour before doing so.

Being in tune with your body is important here. Your stomach could be slow to empty, in which case, you might want to consider eating smaller meals and drinking small amounts throughout the day, rather than eating a lot of food or drinking a large amount of water in one go.

Empty Stomach

If you feel sick after drinking water on an empty stomach, you could experience nausea simply because your body is hungry for food.

Water, as we all know, doesn’t offer the sustenance we need for energy. Feeling nauseous after drinking water on an empty stomach is a clear pointer that you need to eat something.

The solution here is simple – fill that empty stomach with food!

Dehydration

Just like when your body is lacking food, you’re likely to experience some unpleasant symptoms if you’re not drinking enough water. As well as feeling nauseous, if you’re dehydrated, you might also have a headache, feel tired, weak, dizzy or lightheaded, and have dry lips or a dry mouth.

A simple way to tell whether you’re dehydrated is to check the color of your pee. If it’s dark yellow and strong-smelling, you should drink more. It’s vital that you drink enough water to give your body the fuel it needs to survive.

Pregnancy (morning sickness)

If there’s any chance you could possibly be pregnant, feeling nauseous after drinking water could be your body’s way of trying to tell you.

The name is slightly misleading – you can actually experience morning sickness at any time during the day, or even overnight. Frequent urination, spotting and stomach pain, fatigue, and lower-than-normal blood pressure are also common early signs of pregnancy.

Take a pregnancy test if you need to.

Lack of Electrolytes

Electrolyte imbalance might be a term that you’d associate with a science lab, but it’s actually a common issue that we all may experience from time to time. We need electrolytes – the name given to a group of essential minerals – to survive.

Electrolytes can become unbalanced if you’ve lost fluids from heavy exercise, you’re on certain medications (such as diuretics and antibiotics), you have kidney disease or heart failure, or you’ve had diarrhea or sickness.

Usually, a lack of these minerals causes symptoms including lethargy, fluid retention and nausea.

You can prevent electrolyte imbalance by staying hydrated and drinking sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

Medical Conditions

A number of medical conditions, such as digestive disorders and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), can result in nausea and vomiting after drinking water.

Although it’s less common, water can trigger heartburn and acid reflux. However, water should generally help to flush stomach acid back down your esophagus.

It’s wise to see a doctor if you’re dealing with digestive issues, but in the meantime, drinking plain water should relieve your symptoms and make you feel slightly better.

Water Contaminants

It may be the contaminants in your drinking water that are causing your nausea.

Even municipal water from your tap contains trace contaminants – and well water is even more susceptible to contamination. Some of the common water contaminants you may encounter include:

Bacteria

Bacteria is most commonly found in well supplies. Fecal coliform typically indicates contamination from sewage. If testing reveals this contaminant in your water, it’s important to switch to bottled water while you investigate further.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are common in the majority of tap water sources. While some heavy metals, like copper and manganese, are needed in our diets, others are toxic to the human body.

Lead is one of the most dangerous heavy metals in drinking water, and should be avoided at all costs.

It’s unlikely that you’ll feel sick from drinking water containing heavy metals unless there’s enough in there to cause toxicity. In this case, alongside nausea, you may also experience headaches, abdominal pain, the urge to vomit, diarrhea, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

Algae

Algae is a contaminant that can be found in both wells and municipal water sources, and is often present alongside bacteria.

Blue-green algae pose the biggest danger in drinking water. Because there is no EPA regulation for this contaminant, water treatment facilities aren’t obliged to remove it during processing.

As well as nausea, blue-green algae may cause liver and stomach issues, skin and eye irritation, and even respiratory problems. Pets can also be at risk of illness and death if they drink water containing blue-green algae.

Pesticides

Pesticides can be found in both surface water and groundwater. The concentration of pesticides in your water depends on a number of factors, such as your water source and the level of irresponsible farming activity in your local area.

Though pesticides are regulated by the EPA, they may still be present in trace amounts. Some of the acute health effects of pesticides, aside from nausea, are dizziness, rashes, blisters, diarrhea, and sometimes death.

MTBE

MTBE is the name given to a group of chemicals that can make it into our drinking water via pollution. Millions of Americans drank MTBE in their tap water until 2015, when the contamination was discovered – and thankfully, the chemicals hadn’t been present in harmful levels.

Still, drinking MTBE is related to nausea, so it’s worth arranging for laboratory testing if you suspect your water may be contaminated. Exposure to MTBE may also cause headaches, dizziness and disorientation.

herbicide water contamination

💡 How Do I Stop Feeling Sick After Drinking Water?

If water makes you feel nauseous, you may respond by trying not to drink much water at all.

However, if you don’t drink enough fluids on a daily basis, you’ll end up unpleasantly thirsty and perhaps even dehydrated. If you can’t stomach plain water from your tap, try remedying the problem with one of the below suggestions:

Try Purified or Distilled Water

If you’ve put your post-drinking nausea down to the quality of your water, try drinking water that has been purified or distilled.

You can buy bottled water that has been treated this way, or, for a long-term, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution, you could purchase your own reverse osmosis filter or distiller to purify your water at home.

You might find that if you have a sensitive digestive or immune system, being able to drink water that contains no impurities helps you to stop feeling nauseous.

Having an at-home filter is an increasingly popular option today.

Eat First, Then Drink

When you drink water on an empty stomach, as I explained earlier in this guide, your body may think that you’re eating – and if you’re low on energy and wanting food, that may cause you to feel nauseous.

Avoid drinking water on an empty stomach entirely, and instead, drink a glass of water after every meal or snack.

This should reduce nausea by providing your body with the energy it needs before you hydrate it with water. Remember, though, that eating too much before drinking water may also make you nauseous, as will drinking too much water in one go.

Test Different Temperatures

Hot or cold water temperatures may be more difficult to stomach than others.

Cold water happens to be harder for us to drink in general as it constricts the blood vessels, and it can even have effects on the digestive system that could contribute to your nausea.

However, if you’re very hot and a little dehydrated, cold water may be far more palatable than warm or room-temperature water.

Adjust the temperature of your water to determine whether being too warm or too cold is a contributing factor to your nausea.

Try Infused or Flavored Water

Perhaps you simply don’t like the taste of water.

In this instance, you could try bottled water that’s flavored or infused, or even add your own flavorings at home. There are plenty of healthy infusions to consider.

Try adding mint, lemon slices, ginger root, basil, watermelon, orange or rosemary to a big pitcher and allowing the flavors to mingle before drinking.

If plain water makes you feel nauseous, simply flavoring your water may solve the problem.

Another option is to drink a cup of juice when you’re nauseous. Like soda, juice shouldn’t be drank all the time, as it has an excessive sugar content, However, in small quantities, it may help reduce your nausea problem.

Take Smaller Sips, More Frequently

I mentioned that drinking water on an empty stomach is a bad idea, as is drinking too much water in one go. You don’t want to overwhelm your body and make your internal organs work too hard to process a large amount of water, so take your time.

Space out your H2O consumption by taking small sips regularly throughout the day. If you felt nauseous simply because you were drinking a lot of water in one go, the problem should resolve itself almost instantly.

Add Electrolytes or Salt

To avoid nausea that’s related to electrolyte imbalance, adding electrolytes or sodium to your beverages should help to keep your energy levels up.

Potassium, calcium and sodium may make a big difference in your H2O , especially if you regularly perform high-intensity workouts.

Drink Water With Carbonation

Carbonated water, or fizzy water, may help to relieve nausea that happens as a result of stomach acid.

When you drink water with carbonation, your stomach’s total acidity should reduce, which may reduce your nausea within minutes.

I would strongly recommend drinking carbonated water rather than fizzy drinks or soda, which typically contain high concentrations of artificial sugars or sweeteners.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re thinking, “Water makes me nauseous, but I’m certain it isn’t for any of the reasons above,” speak to your PCP.

It’s not always possible to determine exactly why you’re nauseous after drinking. It could be something to do with the water itself, or it might be entirely unrelated.

You may simply be dealing with an imbalance of your body or a side effect of a hormonal change.

Getting checked out by a health professional will help you to resolve the issue or simply reassure you that you have nothing to worry about. Your doctor can assess your health records and evaluate your symptoms before determining the cause of the issue. They will also arrange for tests and additional diagnoses if needed.

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

Is there such a thing as drinking too much water per day?

Yes. Drinking more than 20-28 liters of water per day may result in a condition called hyponatremia, which happens when your kidneys are unable to filter out the excess water. We only require 2 liters of water per day, so it seems pretty impossible to over-drink. But even drinking 3–4 liters of water within a short space of time may overwhelm your kidneys, which is why it’s best to space out your drinking habits throughout the day, or only drink when you’re thirsty.

Why can’t I drink water when I wake up?

You might not want to drink water straight away in the morning. It’s recommended that we drink a glass immediately after getting up, but if your stomach hasn’t had time to wake up, this may make you feel nauseous. Rather than drinking water on an empty stomach, try waiting until you’re ready for breakfast, then slowly drinking as you eat. You can also add a lemon slice to your glass to help soothe your stomach.