Does water help acid reflux? Can it cause heartburn?

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Water, if consumed properly, can help with acid reflux symptoms. However, if you consume too much, too fast, you can get heartburn from drinking water.

Glass of water

Is drinking water good for acid reflux?

Heartburn is a common condition that many people experience. During an acid reflux attack, it usually feels like you are having burning pain in your chest just behind the breastbone.

Water can help in two ways to relieve reflux or GERD symptoms:

Water can clear out the esophagus

If stomach acids can enter backing up to the esophagus, they start to irritate the lining of the esophagus. This is the unpleasant feeling we call heartburn.

Drinking water can provide relief for acid reflux as it can raise the pH level of the stomach acids, but only for a short period. Water can also dilute the acid in the esophagus and help clear it out.

Slow digestion

A common reason for heartburn is slow digestion. Food stays in your stomach longer than normal, therefore it is more likely to enter the esophagus and cause heartburn. Since water helps digestion, it can help to avoid acid reflux.

Can you get heartburn from drinking water?

When you drink water to relieve the pain of heartburn, be careful not to drink too much and too fast.

This can aggravate acid reflux for multiple reasons:

  • The excess water (overhydration) might be messing with the electrolytes in the body.
  • Your stomach might get full faster, pushing undigested food and acids back to the esophagus.
  • Water also makes it easier to swallow food, without properly chewing it. Chewing helps to break down food, mixes it with saliva, and reduces the swallowing of air. All of these help digestion, so if you don’t chew your food well, you are more likely to digest slower and experience acid reflux.

For these reasons, excess water can increase the possibility of acids flowing back to the esophagus, therefore causing acid reflux.

The signs will worsen if you drink even more water in response to the symptoms, so you should always pay attention to the amount of water you consume.

When and how to consume water so that it is good for heartburn?

It’s usually fine to drink water while eating, but you should drink in small, frequent sips and not all at once.

Do not use the water to make it easier to swallow the food. Chew the food well, swallow it, and only after drink a sip.

Your body does need enough water to stay hydrated, but make sure you drink larger amounts of water between meals.

When you control your water intake, it is less likely to fill your stomach too fast. Avoid drinking the entire glass at once as the reaction to the acid will not be controllable, and it might make the pain worse.

Is alkaline water good for heartburn?

People suffering from acid reflux consider alkaline water to be an effective treatment. It is known to reduce the symptoms of heartburn.

The theory behind this is that alkaline water reduces the acidity of the gut while denaturing all the pepsin present. Alkaline water has a higher pH than regular tap water. At nine, it has a remarkable capacity to buffer acid, thus reducing the effects of acid reflux.

When the alkaline water denatures the pepsin and renders it permanently inactive, the acid levels in the stomach are better managed, and you get relief from heartburn. However, like any other water used to counter the effects of heartburn, you should not take alkaline water in excessive amounts.

Final thoughts

Water can be an effective heartburn remedy if consumed properly:

  • only drink small, frequent sips while having a meal
  • you still need to properly chew the food
  • drink larger quantities between meals

Drinking too much water, especially while or shortly after eating can fill up your stomach fast and cause chest pain, heartburn, or other acid reflux symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

Can sparkling water cause heartburn?

According to The University of Chicago Medical Center:

Some patients find carbonated water improves their digestion and reduces indigestion. For some people, though, excessive intake can induce gas and bloating, making them uncomfortable.

They recommend switching to non-carbonated beverages if you are prone to acid reflux.

Is warm water better for heartburn?

Warm water might be more efficient in clearing the esophagus, however, there seems to be no scientific evidence to back this up.

Can ice water cause heartburn?

Your digestive enzymes in your stomach need a certain temperature to function properly. If the temperature is colder than the optimum, it could cause indigestion.

Therefore if are prone to acid reflux, you might want to stay away from cold drinks, like iced water.

Can dehydration cause acid reflux?

Not drinking enough water might trigger acid reflux and other digestive problems.

This might especially be a problem in the morning when you wake up. Drinking a glass or two of lukewarm water will help your digestive system to function normally.