Stomach Hurts After Drinking Water? Here’s What It Could Mean
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Feeling thirsty, you filled a glass at the tap, gulped it down, and went about your day. Moments later, your stomach started gurgling like a dormant volcano, ready to blow. “Maybe it’s that burrito from last night,” you thought. As it turned out, the actual offender was hidden in plain sight all along: the water.
If this sounds all too familiar, you may wonder how something as seemingly healthy as water could make your stomach churn. However, it happens more often than you’d think. The good news is that there are ways to prevent or remedy it. But first, it’s essential to know if it’s your stomach hurting and what could be triggering these water-induced stomach issues in the first place.
Is it actually your stomach that hurts?
When you say your “stomach hurts,” are you referring to that torso area between your chest and hips? If so, that area is your abdomen, not your stomach. As shown in the diagram above, the stomach starts under your left rib cage and extends down to the upper part of your torso. Stomach pain, then, would be any unpleasant sensation in that area.
Depending on the level of discomfort, symptoms can range from mild soreness to severe oh-my-goodness cramps. Usually, this sensation goes away after some time but may persist in some people. Besides, sussing out the source can be tricky, even for some physicians, as the abdomen houses many major organs. Still, it’s good to have an idea of what may be going on. So, let’s explore some possible reasons behind this problem.
7 Possible Reasons Your Stomach Hurts After Drinking Water and What to Do About It
Drink more water. You’ve probably heard this quite a lot growing up and perhaps even today. It’s pretty solid advice because drinking enough H2O offers many fantastic benefits. However, you may be puzzled about why your stomach feels a bit wonky or flat-out sore after drinking it.
There are a few possible reasons this happens, such as the following:
Stomach Pain Cause #1. Drinking More Than Your Stomach Could Handle
Chugging liters of water in one shot is never a good idea. It fills up your stomach quickly, causing it to expand to accommodate all that extra fluid. Your stomach may stretch so much that it causes much discomfort.
Prevention Tip: Spreading out your water intake in smaller portions throughout the day puts less strain on your stomach. In the same way you (hopefully) wouldn’t consume a whole day’s worth of food in just one sitting; apply the same principle when hydrating daily.
Stomach Pain Cause #2. Drinking Water Too Quickly
Sometimes, you’re probably so parched you can’t help trying to quench your thirst in mere seconds. But please be careful, as that satisfying “ahh!” can quickly turn to “ouch!” from the stomach pains you might experience soon after.
When you drink too fast, you tend to take in air during the process, which can cause aerophagia. According to WebMD, “aerophagia happens when you swallow a lot of air—enough to make you burp frequently or upset your stomach.” Luckily, the body digests water pretty quickly, so this aching shouldn’t last long if the issue is drinking too fast.
Prevention Tip: Take smaller sips instead of chugging large amounts too quickly. This gives your stomach more time to accommodate the extra volume of water.
Stomach Pain Cause #3. The Water Is Too Hot or Too Cold
Nothing quenches your thirst more than an ice-cold glass of water on a hot day. But often, the temperature of the water can cause stomach discomfort in temperature-sensitive people.
According to Supriya Rao, M.D., “You have millions of nerves innervating [stimulating] your gut. Too-cold water can irritate these nerves and cause cramping, especially since your body has to work to heat the chilly water back to body temperature to use it.”
A study also found that water temperature affects your body’s ability to move fluid out of your stomach. Per the study, drinking icy cold water slows down contractions in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the rate of stomach emptying when compared to drinking warmer water, showing that water lingers in your stomach longer when it’s cold.
On the flip side, Nanavati Max Hospital suggests drinking hot water on an empty stomach can lead to stomach discomfort or pain, especially if there is an existing digestive issue such as acid reflux or gastritis.
Prevention Tip: If hot or cold water is the culprit behind your stomach woes, try sticking to room temperature water, as it is usually easier on the stomach.
Stomach Pain Cause #4. An Underlying Digestive Health Condition
While you can adjust the temperature of the water you drink and how much (or how quickly) you drink it, sometimes it’s an underlying health issue triggering your post-hydration stomach pain.
Here are some possibilities to consider:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes stomach acid backwash into the esophagus due to a faulty lower esophageal sphincter valve. According to gastroenterologist Seifeldin Hakim, M.D., when you drink lots of water, especially on an empty tummy, the stomach produces more acid, which can burn if it flows upwards. He also states that both those with chronic GERD and occasional acid reflux can experience this water-induced heartburn. If you have GERD, try to remain upright after drinking to allow gravity to keep the acidic contents contained.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) makes the bowel overly sensitive to pain signals— essentially “amping up” the receptors. So, changes that shouldn’t cause an issue, like drinking water, get perceived as painful cramps and discomfort. A study in the Journal of Gastroenterology found that cold water is more likely to “set things off” in people with high temperature sensitivity. Sticking to warm liquids should provide relief without needing to skimp on hydration.
- Stomach ulcers (aka Gastric ulcers) are open sores that develop on the stomach lining. According to NHS Reform, these ulcers are often caused by an pylori infection or long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). When you have an ulcer, you’re likely to experience a range of symptoms, the most common being a burning stomach pain or discomfort, especially when your stomach is empty. This is because the swollen, damaged tissue in the stomach makes it painful when swallowing water or food. It creates an overfull sensation and may cause severe nausea and vomiting. If you suspect a stomach ulcer, see your doctor immediately for a diagnosis and treatment. Treatment should address the root cause, allowing proper healing so water can flow without irritation.
- Gastroparesis may occur when stomach nerves and muscles malfunction, causing contents to sit stagnant in your stomach rather than moving along in a reasonable time. Attempting to drink any amount of water contributes to uncomfortable bloating and fullness. Vomiting and appetite issues also often occur with this condition. Addressing potential underlying causes like diabetes allows symptoms to improve over time.
Prevention Tip: If you think any health conditions are behind your stomach issue, consult your doctor ASAP to rule out these causes. A thorough evaluation can identify potential underlying digestive conditions and determine whether or not they are responsible for the pain or discomfort in your stomach after drinking water.
Stomach Pain Cause #5. Irritants in Your Drinking Water
Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning is said to be a proven wellness hack. And it’s true—lemon water has some pretty amazing benefits. But according to Health Shots, “People who consume too many citrus fruits often suffer from gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, acid reflux, nausea, and vomiting.” Other additives like sugar, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners are poorly digested in the gut, triggering bloating, gassiness, and abdominal discomfort.
Prevention Tip: While drinking plain water is always best, consider diluting your lemon water. You’ll still get all the benefits but without the extra acidity. Also, having a small snack like toast or fruit before the lemon water gives your body a buffer against the acidity hitting an empty stomach. If you’re having stomach pains after drinking sugary or alcoholic beverages, try to limit your intake or avoid consuming them.
Stomach Pain Cause #6. Lying Down Too Soon After Drinking Water
Lying down too quickly after drinking water can cause stomach acids to move into the esophagus, resulting in an unpleasant pressure or pain sensation in the stomach and perhaps a bitter taste. This often happens a lot in people with acid reflux or GERD.
Prevention Tip: Many health experts advise that you avoid lying down immediately after drinking or eating. Instead, sit upright and give your stomach time to break down its contents.
Stomach Pain Cause #7. Drinking Unfiltered Water
If your stomach issue doesn’t stem from your hydration habits or a medical condition, something is probably wrong with the water—the cause that most concerns us here at Springwell.
When water isn’t filtered or sanitized properly (or at all), it’s likely to contain a broad range of potentially toxic pollutants. Allergic reactions to these contaminants could send your stomach into a spiral if you ingest them.
Abrasive chemical contaminants like pesticides, toxic industrial chemicals, chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride are known culprits. However, microbial pollutants, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites like E. coli, Salmonella, and Giardia lamblia, are also linked to various stomach issues, including upset stomach, aching, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal problems.
Prevention Tip: As the CDC recommends, only drink water you know is safe (more on this below). Of course, if you’re having symptoms consistent with drinking contaminated water (like vomiting or diarrhea), seek medical attention immediately.
How Do I Know If Contaminated Water Is Causing My Stomach Pain?
As explained earlier, unfiltered water can contain all sorts of contaminants that can cause stomach pain and other issues once ingested. An excellent way to know if the water supply in your area is contaminated is to call your local water provider and request a copy of their latest water quality report (read this article to learn more). However, you’ll need to conduct a water test for insights into your water quality at home.
In-home testing is usually inexpensive and user-friendly, but laboratory testing reigns supreme for its accuracy, thoroughness, and reliability.
Lab testing typically involves the following steps:
- Purchase a water test kit.
- Collect a water sample from your home (per the instructions) and mail it to the lab.
- Wait for the results. This can take a few days to a week or two, depending on the lab. These results will include a list of contaminants (and their specific concentrations), other water quality issues detected, and recommendations on addressing those problems.
How Do I Treat My Drinking Water to Help Prevent Stomach Pain?
If something in your drinking water is causing your stomach issues, consider investing in a whole-house water filtration system or an under-counter water filter.
Whole-House Water Filtration Systems
Unlike pitchers that filter small batches of water, whole-house water filters treat all the water entering your home. That means whenever you turn on a faucet, you get filtered water that’s far gentler on the stomach.
Whole-house systems connect to where the main water line enters your home. They use larger carbon filters that handle significant volumes at higher pressure. As water flows in, they intercept bigger contaminants and reduce chlorine added in public treatment.
Add a UV Water Purification System to the mix, and you’ll have a hybrid system that removes up to 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other microbial contaminants from your water supply.
Undercounter Water Filter Systems
For more targeted filtration, undercounter water filters are installed below specific kitchen or bathroom faucets. They work a bit like whole-house systems but on a smaller scale, using sediment filters, carbon filters, and powerful reverse osmosis (RO) membranes to catch heavy metals, toxic chemicals, bacteria, and microplastics. Undersink systems are super convenient for providing high-quality drinking and cooking water from your main kitchen tap.
While the upfront cost for both whole-house and undersink filters may seem on the higher end, remember that you only need to change the filters every six months or so. Compared to constantly buying disposable pitcher filters and bottled water, they can save you big bucks and significantly reduce plastic waste in the long run.
Shop Springwell for the Best Water Filters to Remove Bacteria, Chemicals, Etc.
With a water filter system from Springwell, you don’t ever have to live with stomach issues after drinking from your tap (assuming contaminated water is the culprit).
Springwell has been helping families in and outside Florida eliminate issues with their drinking water supplies for over two decades. We offer some of the most premium and affordable home water treatment systems on the market, including whole-house systems, under-counter reverse osmosis filters, water softeners, chemical injection systems, UV water purification systems, and more. Plus, all our water filtration products are designed and manufactured in America, built with the highest-quality materials, and integrated with the latest water treatment technologies to produce the cleanest, best-tasting water possible.
If you need help finding the best water filter to help prevent stomach pain or want to learn more about our offerings, call us at 800-589-5592 or message us via our contact page or the chat feature on our website.
Feeling pain or discomfort in your stomach after drinking water isn’t unusual. It’s more likely to occur if you drink too quickly or too much at once, drink cold water, or lie down immediately after drinking. You may also experience H2O-induced stomach pain if you have certain pre-existing medical condition like acid reflux or IBS or if you ingest contaminated water.
Drinking smaller amounts of room-temperature water slowly should help prevent or ease the symptoms. And, if you feel stomach pain after drinking water, the sensation should go away in a few minutes. If it doesn’t, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.