Why Does It Hurt When I Drink Water On An Empty Stomach?

You’ve probably been told all your life that you should drink more water. Stay hydrated. And you’ve probably also heard that drinking a tall glass of water as soon as you wake up is very good for you. And since so many people say it, it must be true. So you try it. But what if it hurts inside as soon as you start drinking the water, especially first thing in the morning.

It can’t be something wrong with the action of drinking water on an empty stomach right? Many people have been doing it for decades. So does this mean there’s something wrong with your stomach? Should you stop drinking water on an empty stomach? Should you get checked out by the doctor? Are there any side effects of drinking water in the morning? What can you do to reduce the pain?

Pain when drinking water on an empty stomach is usually due to irritation of your stomach walls. This can be due to acid reflux or even because you drank too much water when your body was low in energy. To prevent this you can reduce the amount of water and increase the amount gradually. If the pain continues, even after you’ve taken the below precautions, it might be time to visit your doctor.

The effects of water on an empty stomach

If your stomach hurts or feels strange after drinking water as soon as you wake up, the odds are that your stomach walls were irritated. When you wake up after a good night’s rest, your body is hungry for food and your stomach is ready to get started.

Drinking a lot of water can sometimes cause nausea and pain because your body is low in energy. So while some fruit juice or a sugary drink might feel better (as it has sugar and energy), drinking water might not have the same effect.

The below table highlights the most important things you should know about drinking water on an empty stomach.

The ProsThe Cons
An increase in energy – Water increases the number of red blood cells, especially when your stomach is empty. It also increases your oxygen intake making you more alert in the morning. But if you drink coffee you might have some acid reflux built upAs much as 4 cups of water should be taken for the benefits of having some impact, making this method somewhat impractical
Increased metabolism – Your glass of water can increase your metabolism by up to 30%, helping you lost those last few pounds you’ve been trying to get rid of.More bathroom breaks – When you drink more water before breakfast, naturally that means that you will end up using the bathroom more often than usual, especially if you aim for the 4 glasses before breakfast
Reduced joint ache – Drinking water in the morning can lubricate your joints and can reduce back and join pan if done daily. It also lowers the probability of getting headaches which usually happen due to dehydrationAcid reflux – When drinking water on an empty stomach, it can trigger acid reflux which can hurt your stomach. This is the most common reason why your stomach would hurt when you drink water on an empty stomach
Clearer skin – Drinking water on an empty stomach can go a long way in hydrating your skin, especially in the long term, making it look more radiant and softer throughout the dayCan cause dizziness – as your stomach diverts energy for digestion, and your body is already low in energy, drinking water on an empty stomach can cause you to feel faint.
Pros and cons of water on an empty stomach

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition where the lower end of your esophagus rises more than usual. This, in turn, causes the stomach acid to rise higher than usual. And since the walls of the esophagus aren’t protected against acid, the stomach acid can cause a burning sensation or a sharp pain.

A young man is clenching his stomach due to acid reflux and is heading to the bathroom.

Acid reflux is also known as GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and can occur to everyone from time to time. However, drinking water on an empty stomach is one thing that can trigger acid reflux.

Below are some other reasons your stomach might hurt after drinking water in the morning. The first two reasons can even cause acid reflux.

  1. Drinking cold water – Drinking cold water can shock your stomach, causing pain, discomfort, and nausea, especially when it’s been empty for some time.
  2. Drinking too much water – This can lower your sodium levels causing a condition known as hyponatremia, which causes nausea and stomach cramps.
  3. Stomach ulcers – Stomach ulcers are usually created over time with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs or stress. When you drink water and the acidity increases, it can irritate the ulcer, causing pain. But unless you’ve been having pain for some time, it’s probably not the cause of your stomach pain.
  4. Contaminated water – While less likely, there is a chance that the water you’ve been drinking was contaminated with lead, especially in older buildings. Groundwater may even have traces of arsenic and other contaminations that can cause discomfort or an allergic reaction in your stomach. As per a study done in 1999, it’s far more common than you think.

Preventing stomach pain with your glass of water

A young woman is drinking water slowly while sitting down, to help prevent any stomach pain after.

If you’ve had any doubts as to why your stomach hurts when you drink water, the above facts might have given an idea as to why and what is happening in your body to cause the pain.

If the pain is caused by drinking water, you can take the below precautions to make sure it never happens again.

  1. Drink lukewarm water in the morning
  2. Avoid drinking too much water in the morning before breakfast
  3. Check your water supply annually for any leaks
  4. Consult a doctor if the pain persists.

Since your stomach can be a delicate ecosystem of its own, you must introduce new habits such as drinking water in the morning, gradually as opposed to starting by drinking 2 cups of water before breakfast.

Conclusion

Drinking water is good for you, but as you may know, even too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

If you’ve been experiencing pain while drinking water on an empty stomach, it’s probably because your stomach isn’t used to it and acid reflux is triggering the symptoms. So make sure you start by drinking a little bit of warm water and increase the amount of water you drink, with time.