Why Does Water Make Me Nauseous?

Why Does Water Make Me Nauseous?

You know that drinking enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day is essential, but you have a weird problem. Every time you drink water, you feel nauseated and sick. What is causing this? Why does drinking water make you feel nauseous?

Drinking too much water may cause nausea due to a medical condition called water intoxication. Drinking water on an empty stomach or when the stomach is too full can also make you feel nauseous. Chemical or microbial contaminants in the water can also cause symptoms of nausea.

Keep reading to learn more about why water may be causing you to feel nauseous, what to do about it, and steps you can take to make water safer to drink.

Why Drinking Water Makes Me Nauseous?

Drinking water may cause you to feel nauseous for any number of reasons. Medically, some people may feel nauseated when they attempt to drink water on an empty stomach, a full stomach, or if they have already consumed heavy quantities of water.

The city water you’re consuming may contain high levels of contaminants, heavy metals, bacteria, or medical waste and this could easily make a person sick. If you’re drinking well water microbes, pesticide residue, or contamination from flooding can cause you to feel ill.

If you feel unwell after drinking your tap water, consider switching to bottled water until the culprit and a solution can be found. Apart from unsafe tap water, an underlying medical condition may be causing you to feel sick.

A Medical Condition May Cause Nausea When Drinking Water

If you’re drinking water on an empty stomach or even after a heavy meal, the shock of normal amounts of water to your system can cause you to feel unwell.

If your stomach is already full, attempting to wash a large meal down with a glass of water can cause nausea, as your body is only capable of handling so much volume. In addition, shocking a very thirsty body with large quantities of fluid can cause serious illness.

Some people suggest you only drink after eating a meal to avoid this condition. Doing this helps because your stomach is too full which can make you feel sick.

In rare cases, consuming too much water can cause a condition known as “water intoxication”. Though water is vital for the healthy operation of the human body and the health of cells, an excess of water can flood the system, and lead to a condition ending in psychosis and death.

The earliest stages of water intoxication may include nausea. If you begin to experience nausea while drinking substantial quantities of water, stop. Give your body time to recover and absorb the fluid, and seek medical attention immediately.

Apart from medical issues, you may be feeling nauseous after drinking water, thanks to bacteria in your water system.

Bacteria in Water Can Make You Feel Nauseous

Bacteria in your water supply can cause nausea and even serious illness. One of the most common culprits is E. Coli. When water systems malfunction, during extreme flooding, or a breakdown of the water treatment system, human waste can find its way into your drinking water. E. Coli thrives in solid waste and can find its way into your drinking water this way.

Top bacterial contaminants include

  • Coli
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Escherichia
  • Shigella

While your municipality should issue a warning about any unsafe drinking water within 24 hours, hold off on consuming tap water if you begin to feel nauseous. Call your local city water, and consider testing the tap water yourself for bacteria. You may be able to find water testing kits at a local home improvement store or online.

Most of these microbes are found in human or animal waste and get into your water when a treatment system fails, or waste leaks into old pipes.

What else can cause you to feel sick when drinking your tap water? Is it possible for chemicals to get into your water?

Can Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals in Water Make You Feel Sick?

Another reason your tap water is making you feel sick? Pesticides and other industrial chemicals in your tap water. Runoff from fields and factories can find its way into drinking water, and these toxic substances can make you very sick.

If you live near farmland, live on a farm, or live close to a large factory, chemicals used to kill pests or used in manufacturing can find their way into your water. This is especially true of rural water systems, and it is important to test your water if you live on or near farmland, or large industrial operations.

Another possible culprit is airports. If you live near or next to an airport, the chemicals and fuels used on the runway can find their way into groundwater due to heavy rains, and these chemicals can also enter your drinking water.

These chemicals can make you feel nauseated, lead to vomiting, and have even been linked to cancer. While pesticides help us grow large amounts of crops, they don’t belong in your water.

You may also be wondering about the presence of metals in your drinking water. Can heavy metals in water make you sick?

If you’re concerned about pesticides in your water, read my article about removing glyphosate with reverse osmosis.

Are Heavy Metals in Drinking Water Unsafe?

Metals can leak into your water system through old piping, mining operations, and factory waste. These metals include arsenic, cadmium, lead, and copper. Long-term exposure to these metals can put you at risk of organ failure and cancer, while short-term exposure may cause nausea and cramping.

Test your water for heavy metals if you live in an especially old home or building with legacy piping, or if you live near an industrial or mining complex. These metals can be especially dangerous to your health if you consume them regularly over long periods. They can cause kidney damage, liver damage, neurological problems, and reproductive harm.

If you are experiencing any of these short-term health issues or have been treated for organ damage, your drinking water may be to blame. Another reason drinking water can make you nauseated is the presence of gasoline in your water supply.

Check out my article about reverse osmosis for removing lead from drinking water.

Is There Gasoline in My Drinking Water?

One cause of water-borne illness that escapes many is gasoline. Gasoline, of course, belongs in cars and trucks, but spills, leakage, and industrial accidents can cause gasoline to leak out into the soil and can find its way from there into groundwater sources.

What happens if you consume gasoline?

  • Stomach problems
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness and
  • Confusion

are all side effects of consuming small quantities of gasoline in your water. If you and your family consume gasoline-infused water in the long term, you may experience kidney and liver damage, neurological damage, and reproductive harm.

If you begin to feel unwell when consuming your tap water, it could be due to gasoline contamination. Another possible culprit that many overlook is trace amounts of medications and hormones in your water supply.

Can Medications in My Water Make Me Nauseous?

Medications used to treat infertility and depression, or hormones prescribed by a doctor may find their way into drinking water. Antibiotics used on farm animals may also enter groundwater during rain storms, and wind up in your glass.

These medications can cause illness, infertility, nausea, neurological complications, and hormonal disbalances in adults and children. This is a less widely understood phenomenon, and your local municipality may be unaware of such contamination.

So, what steps can you take to make contaminated water safer? Will boiling water take care of all your drinking water problems?

Can Boiling Water Make it Safer?

Boiling water is a simple and effective way to neutralize bacteria in drinking water, but it won’t do anything to remove metals, chemicals, medications, or pesticides from your tap water. If your tap water is contaminated by bacteria, boil it for five minutes and allow it to cool fully before drinking.

This should render it safe for drinking and cooking. Bathing or showering in bacteria-contaminated water is a bit trickier. If bathing small children, use water that has been boiled and allowed to cool for bathing, as kids can sometimes drink or gulp water in the tub for fun. Make sure that any water used to brush your teeth has been boiled and cooled, as well.

Showering or bathing in such water can be potentially risky, as well. While you probably won’t be gulping water for fun in your shower, contaminated water can get into your mouth and eyes accidentally. Be especially careful to shield your eyes and mouth from contaminated water if you’re showering, and don’t reuse this water for any other purpose.

Can a water filter make contaminated water safer?

A Water Filter Can Help Combat Nausea

An NSF / ANSI 53 certified water filtration system can help remove heavy metals from drinking water, as well as industrial chemicals and gasoline, bacteria, pesticides, and other harmful substances.

Many of these water filtration systems can install right under your sink and provide safe and clean drinking water for your whole family, no matter what is leaking into local water.

While NSF / ANSI 53 filters can remove metals and chemicals, NSF / ANSI 401 filters are also specially designed to filter out trace amounts of medications that can find their way into your drinking water. Make sure that your water filter is rated NSF 53 or NSF 401 for maximum effectiveness.

It is still a good idea to boil all filtered water if there are local warnings about bacteria contamination. Boiling can kill the bacteria or parasites that are living in your water supply.

Is Bottled Water a Safer Option?

The safest option for you and your family in a water contamination crisis may be bottled water. It is naturally filtered, pure, tested, and doesn’t have to pass through any pipes to get to your home. You can use bottled water to drink, cook in, and even brush your teeth.

Bottled water is a safe and portable option that can help keep you and your loved ones protected from illness and contamination. Feel free to stock up on bottled water before an emergency is announced. It’s a good idea to have at least three days’ worth of bottled water on hand in case of an emergency, especially if you live in a city or region prone to water issues.

By the time a water emergency is declared locally, there may already have been a rush at grocery stores and convenience stores, and you can have a hard time getting clean water. Stocking up beforehand is best. What about well water? Can well water make you nauseous?

Can Well Water Make Me Nauseous?

Well water is derived from groundwater and is generally used by private landowners. As such, it is not a part of a city’s water system and is not subject to the same testing and safety standard that public water receives.

Well water will not necessarily make you sick, but because well water is not a part of city water, it is a good idea to test your well water routinely for contaminants and water quality. This is especially true if you notice that you have not been feeling well lately.

Test your well water at least once a year in general, and test immediately if you begin to feel unwell for unknown reasons. If you do find evidence of contamination in your well water, do not drink it. Bottled water will be safer for you until your well can be treated.

While boiling water can kill bacteria in water, it will not remove chemical contaminants. Do not bathe in or cook with well water that has been verified as containing chemical contamination. As the landowner, it will be your job to disinfect the well, and this is best done by a professional company.


Your drinking water may make you nauseous if it contains heavy metals, bacteria, chemicals, or medications. Well water is especially vulnerable to contamination, as it does not pass through city water processing. You may also experience nausea when drinking water if you drink when you are already full, or especially dehydrated.

Boiling water for five minutes will kill bacteria, but will not remove chemical contamination. An NSF / ANSI 53 or 401-rated filter can help filter out chemicals and pesticides, while the 401-rated filter will filter trace amounts of medications.

While adults can safely bathe in contaminated water, children and babies should be bathed in water that has been boiled and then cooled. You should not brush your teeth using contaminated water.

Bottled water is the safest option if your drinking water is unsafe. Be sure to stock up with enough water for at least three days, especially if your area is prone to contamination. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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