The question ‘why does your stomach hurt after drinking water’ might seem like a rhetorical one, considering water isn’t supposed to have any ill-effects on your stomach, let alone make it a painful experience to gulp down a glass of water and then complain of a stomach ache. If that’s really the case, we would have asked you to move out of Flint, Michigan and settle somewhere else, but that was three years ago that the crisis ended.
Now, if your stomach hurts after drinking water, one of two things is the answer: either the water is contaminated or your stomach has got an issue to deal with. Whatever, the case, let’s get into it and try to answer some questions.
For starters, most of the time that your stomach hurts when drinking water could be due to the fact that the water might be contaminated with some foreign adulterant that could be the cause of the ache, not the water itself. This has very much been engrained into the public consciousness ever since the Flint water crisis came into news and now, bottled water is the way to go, which is good. Tap water is a factor in every one of those ‘drinking water hurts stomach’ complaints, which could be explained by the fact that tap water isn’t really all that healthy, especially when compared to bottled water.
The Causal Relationship: Stomach Hurt After Drinking Water
As stated beforehand, nine times out of ten, it’s the water that makes your stomach hurt. And as such, most of the time, the problem isn’t even with the water itself, it’s the fact that its been contaminated with an adulterant that’s the cause of the ache. The contaminant could be anything, from an irritant to something far more dangerous, like many types of bacteria, heavy metal elements like chlorine or any physical particles that might get in there, with the number one being small, microscopic pieces of plastic suspended in the water. All of these could be the cause behind your stomach ache.
Second place goes to whatever is wrong with your stomach, with the number one problem being allergens. How this goes is, say you are allergic to excess amounts of chlorine (which is a common element used to treat and disinfect water). Drinking water that has been treated with chlorine and could have traces of it could trigger a stomach ache. In this case, it’s the stomach that has the problem, since chlorine-treated water does not usually present a health risk or hazard. And so, that particular issue would be of your stomach, not of the water.
Food Poisoning As a Source
Many people usually assume food poisoning in the case of a stomach ache, especially if you’ve had a particularly sketchy meal sometime before experiencing the pain. However, its important to note here that since this case has nothing to do with water or water being a part of the process, we’re not going to discuss it at length.
So, food poisoning isn’t when your food is poisoned in the truest sense of the word, but rather when bad or spoilt food is consumed, which in turn causes painful conditions like cramps, diarrhoea, stomach ache and whatnot. Water, in this situation has less of a part to play, whereas food might be the one to blame, as spoilt and bad food will always be a source of stomach aches and cramps because of the presence of many bacteria and other factors in it.
Foods With Acids As a Cause of Ache
Foods with acid could contribute to a stomach ache that could have been bought about by drinking water. And the process is relatively simple and easy-to-understand. Acids and water tend to react with the remainder being two different compounds. In the stomach, where the temperature is high, pressure is high and a mixture of stomach acids and whatnot can result in the creation of a compound that could, in theory, irritate the walls of the stomach, which could subsequently result in a stomach ache.
Water mixed with foods which are high in the acidic content isn’t commonly considered something that could cause a stomach ache, but this is still something that is a possibility and could cause your stomach to hurt after drinking water. So, general advice included, acidic foods or foods with higher acid content should be avoided generally as this does not usually end well.
Air Trapped in Stomach
In rare cases, the air that gets trapped in the stomach may also present a problem, especially when coupled with water that you might drink. For instance, when we breath through our mouth, a small portion of the air we take in goes to our stomach, where, if the situation is such, is trapped when the sphincters of the stomach close, located on the entry and exit of the stomach. When this happens, air gets trapped inside the stomach.
Now when your drink water, the sphincter opens up and water goes in, which could cause pain, but not a sharp jolt of pain, but rather a second or two of mild pain as the air gets pushed against the wall of the stomach.
Air trapped in your stomach does not pose any medical emergency and certainly does not cause pain, but in very specific situations, where air can get trapped inside the stomach and the water you drink afterwards can cause a bit of pain. But that is nothing to be concerned about, and you can go about your day without any issues.
Eating Spicy Foods Can Cause Stomach Aches
As we’ve talked before, food is a big part of why stomach aches happen. Spoilt food, rotten or bad food, or even foods with a high acid-content can all cause stomach aches, and the latter can even cause ulcers of the stomach that can be a big problem.
This brings us to yet another type: spicy foods, which can be problematic for the stomach and have been linked to many problems of the digestive tract, especially the stomach. For one, stomach ulcers are really common with people who eat spicy foods regularly, and this can, over the time, result in some pretty serious medical implications. What’s more, these ulcers can worsen over time, to a point where something as harmless as water can trigger intense pains in the stomach after it hits the ulcer spot.
Which is very concerning; spicy foods have been linked to ulcers, and ulcers that have gotten worse over the years can rouse pain with something as simple as water, which is really concerning and should be kept in check by people.
Many digestive disorders can also result in stomach aches, that could trace their onsets back to water. Among many is inflammation, which is at the forefront of problems that affect the digestive tract. Water can make the stomach pain; especially warm or hot water, which, when consumed while the stomach is already inflamed, can cause there to be a burning sensation in the stomach, causing a stomach ache.
Secondly, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is another malady that is commonly known as acid reflux and isn’t very pleasant. It’s when the stomach acid and bile rise towards the upper GI tract, which leaves a burning sensation. Drinking water during such a situation can cause even more pain, and can subsequently lead to stomach aches and other issues.
Caffeine Consumption and Stomach Aches
Excessive intake of caffeine, whether caffeine in sweet tea ,coffee or in any form , caffeinated energy drinks or really any other source, can also result in some gastrointestinal problems that can result in stomach aches that can be bought about by something as simple as drinking water.
Drinking too much caffeine can cause ulcers of the stomach, which, as we have already discussed, can cause stomach pains which are quite sensitive and can respond even to the slightest of stimuli such as drinking water. Ulcers are basically open wounds in the stomach walls that respond quite painfully to stimuli, much like an open wound on your arm would to any external stimuli.
In this case, the muscle or tissue behind the stomach wall is quite sensitive and is responsible for the secretion of stomach acid and the mastication process of the stomach. When this wall is perforated, the ability of the stomach is also affected, and so, this is not just painful but also very detrimental to the stomach.
Alcohol Consumption As a Cause of Stomach Pains
Alcohol consumption, or rather too much consumption of alcohol has also been linked to many gastrointestinal diseases which can cause stomach pains at a simple stimulus of drinking water. For starters, alcohol consumption, again, can cause ulcers of the stomach, which can lead to such a situation wherein drinking water, especially hot water can result in immediate stomach pains, which arise from the hot water hitting the open, sore wounds in the stomach wall lining. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to that.
Furthermore, excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to some other side effects of the stomach, which can subsequently result in a situation wherein drinking water could cause stomach pains. These include the softening of the stomach walls, which can result in hot or cold water affecting the stomach and causing it pain.
Of course over-eating can affect the stomach very much. For one, over eating can expand the stomach wall, as it struggles to accommodate more food within itself. This stretches out the wall of the stomach and it starts to thin out, causing numerous problems and complications, one of which is again, stomach ulcers.
What’s more, over consumption of spicy or acidic foods can also affect the stomach to point where the consumption of warm or cold water can become problematic and could affect the stomach.
Secondly, over eating can cause the secretion of stomach acid and bile far too often, which can affect the walls of stomach itself. Couple this with GERD and gulping down warm or cold water during an episode of acid reflux can remind you of hell pretty quick.
Stress and Anxiety as Causes of Stomach Aches
Stress and anxiety are two things that people are routinely advised against, as these can cause a number of effects and changes to your body, and not all of them are very pleasant. For instance, stress has been linked with many disorders of the body, and of the ones that could affect the GI tract, the headliners are acid reflux and indigestion, which can lead to some pretty nasty effects.
Furthermore, too much stress can result in a breakdown of the digestive system, which mostly affects the stomach and its ability to digest food, which in turn leads to the stomach not performing properly, which could potentially lead to such a situation where drinking water could spruce up pains in the stomach.
Anxiety, much like stress, is also very debilitating for the organ systems of the body, and one of the foremost on the list of systems affected is the digestive system. Same symptoms as that of stress, anxiety may also cause conditions in the stomach that might lead up to you experiencing stomach pains after drinking water.
Constipation occurs when the body is unable to expel waste or faecal matter from the lower GI tract. Quite painful and frankly embarrassing, constipation is one of those conditions where it can turn life-threatening real quick, much like its exact opposite, which is diarrhoea. Because the expulsion of waste material is imperative for the proper functioning of the entire digestive system, and the breakdown of the lower GI tract can adversely affect parts of the upper GI tract, including the stomach.
And so, constipation can cause some serious pains and aches within the GI tract; which might present themselves in the form of pain in the lower abdomen, squarely in the belly or in the rectal part. This can lead to a situation where the pain is intense enough to flare up even when you’re drinking water, and is something that should be taken care of immediately. Constipation is usually treated with a water intake, laxatives and other oils that may aid with the passing of the faecal matter or stool.
What is The Daily Recommended intake of Water?
Most of us have heard about the ‘8 glasses a day’ thing, where in order to stay hydrated, you need to consume atleast 8 glasses of water a day. During our research to actually verify such claims, we came across something called water intoxication, water poisoning or hyperhydration, which is a condition caused by the overconsumption of water.
So here’s the deal: 8 glasses of water isn’t an objective, necessary thing to do throughout the day in order to stay alive: no. water consumption for an individual relies on a lot of factors and things: weight, age, climactic conditions, lifestyle etc. and so, binding that to a specific number isn’t actually possible. Instead, a better approach would be to drink a glass or two whenever thirsty so that you stay hydrated.
Primary and Secondary Remedies
Stomach ache after drinking water has remedies that include switching the water source, taking medication that might help with stomach issues that are causing the stomach aches and taking medication that might help the stomach. Or take painkillers. Some of these remedies also include homeopathic and alternative medicines in the fray. We’d advise against that since these aren’t tested and such situations can be treated on a case-to-case basis.