What Causes Water Retention When Sick? (Hydration Q&A)


Many people are unaware of the amount and kind of fluids that are ideal for their body when it comes to water retention when ill. Do you need to consume more water than usual? Which is healthier, simple water or sports drinks? What about other libations like juice or tea? What impact can dehydration have on your body's capacity to fend against disease? In order to stay healthy and make wise choices about how to stay hydrated, it is crucial to understand the facts concerning water retention when ill. Continue reading to find out more about the value of staying properly hydrated when you're unwell and how to make sure your body gets the fluids it requires.


Sickness can cause water retention, leading to uncomfortable symptoms.

  • Fluid buildup in the body can cause swelling and bloating.
  • Certain medications can also contribute to water retention.
  • Dehydration is a common side effect of many illnesses.

Understanding how to manage water retention when sick can help reduce discomfort and speed up recovery time.

Do you find yourself getting bloated and heavy feeling when you’re sick with a cold?

***NOTE: Take control of how much water you drink per day with a high-quality personal water bottle. Lifestraw bottles can filter water from practically any source, giving you clean drinking water wherever and whenever you need it.

Do you dread the way your pants get tighter when you’re already dealing with being sick?

Is it normal to experience water retention when sick?

In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to understand the relationship between being sick and retaining water. You’ll be able to figure out what may be causing this problem for you and what, if anything, you can do about it.

Water retention is a problem that affects many people when they get sick, and you’re not alone in this issue. It’s not really a cause for alarm, but if this has never happened to you before, you should probably still bring it up with your doctor just in case. As with any new issues going on with your body, it’s a good idea to have this evaluated by a healthcare professional.

If, however, this is something you’ve been experiencing pretty much your whole life, then don’t worry. You’re probably fine, and there are many contributing factors that may be making a difference in the way your body processes water while you’re not feeling well. Check out the information below to find out more.

Water Retention When Sick

Not everyone experiences water retention from getting sick, but many people do. If you notice yourself gaining more water weight when you’re not feeling well, there may be one or more reasons behind that. Check out our list of facts below to help you get started. And if you’ve still got questions, don’t worry—we’ve got answers! Here is some information to keep in mind:

1. Inflammation in your body contributes to water retention.

staying hydrated while sick

If you have inflamed mucus membranes due to having a cold or you have an inflamed stomach due to having a virus, your body will be more likely to retain water to help combat these issues. If you’re able to treat the inflammation related to your illness, you’re likely to notice the water retention issue dwindling as well. However, it can take some time and effort to deal with inflammation related to being sick, especially as it pertains to your sore throat or your stuffy head, so give yourself time and be patient with your body as you work through your cold.

2. When you’re sick, it’s harder to stay hydrated, which can lead to more water retention overall.

If you aren’t keeping your body well hydrated, it’s going to hold onto water because it feels like it needs it to stay healthy. You need to drink at least your 8 glasses of water a day while you’re sick, and try to increase this by just a little bit, too. If you’re blowing stuffiness out of your head, if you’re vomiting, or if you have a fever—even a slight one—your body is going to be using up more fluid than it normally does, and you’ll need to have plenty of fluid to replace it with. And if you have a cold, you might want to add some orange juice to the fluid routine, as well, since it can help you heal.

***NOTE: If you're trying to be more aware of how much water you are consuming per day, check out our curated list of drinking schedule water bottles. It's the easiest way to take control of the amount of water you are drinking on a daily basis.

3. Your diet may change while you’re sick, which can contribute as well.

drinking water when sick

You may not feel like eating much of anything, but this may put your body into “starvation mode” and lead it to retain water for the same reason it does when it feels dehydrated. On the other hand, you may be eating plenty, but you might be consuming canned soup or other quick and easy “sick day” foods that are packed with sodium. If you’re doing this, chances are good your body is getting more sodium than it’s used to, and this may also lead to more water retention. If you can eat while you’re sick, try your best to eat healthy.

4. Your exercise may change too. 

You may not be as active as usual while you’re sick, and that’s a good thing; you need to rest and give your body a chance to fight back against the bacteria or virus that’s making you ill. However, this may also mean you hold onto water a little more since you aren’t working out to shed that water weight as much as you usually do. Be patient if this is happening to you. You’ll get back on track as soon as you’re well.

5. Medications you are taking can make a difference. 

water retention symptoms

Some types of over the counter medications as well as prescription ones can cause you to retain water. However, if you’re taking these for a short time while you’re sick and plan to stop taking them when you get better, this is only going to be a short-term issue and it should clear up within a few days of stopping the medication. You may just have to tough it out and, once again, be patient until you get well. Soon, you’ll see your body get back to normal as your health does, too.


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ALWAYS REMEMBER: Our bodies are all unique to one another and even though a product is labeled as safe for consumption, it's always best to get a professional medical opinion before trying out any health regimen or treatment on your body.


So do you feel a little bit less alone in your problem now? This is actually an issue that affects many people, and if it’s happening to you, don’t worry. This is just water weight, and it will drop off when you get your body back to its usual self in almost every situation.

As you can see from the information listed above, there are a lot of different causes of a bloated feeling during an illness. Although this information is true mostly of colds or the flu, it’s possible that you’d notice this problem with a stomach bug too, especially if your body is dehydrated from vomiting. If it’s too hard to keep water down while you’re sick, chew on some ice chips or suck on larger pieces of ice—or even popsicles—to get the fluid your body needs and help yourself feel better soon.

What can you do to relieve the bloated feeling? If you’re sick and you get bloated, are you just stuck? Don’t worry—you can deal with this bloating the same way you would deal with any other bloating. First of all, make sure you aren’t dehydrated. Drink plenty of water, but don’t drink so much that you make yourself sick. Find a good balance. Next, be sure you aren’t eating anything that’s too high in sodium. If you are, try looking for a lower sodium option that will give you the same benefits you’re looking for. And finally, take an antacid if you think the bloating is coming more from your digestive system than from your water intake. This can help give you some quick relief while you work on dealing with the water retention issue.

In no time, if you keep this information in mind, you’ll be well on your way to feeling better and dropping that water weight right off again, too!

Additional Research:


5 Tips to Combat Water Retention When Sick

  1. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and herbal teas, to help flush out toxins.
  2. Eat foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes.
  3. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars which can cause inflammation.
  4. Take a diuretic supplement or natural diuretic like dandelion root or parsley.
  5. Get plenty of rest and exercise regularly to help reduce stress levels.

ALSO: Consider using a hot/cold compress on the affected area for additional relief!</p

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About The Author

Joseph Bartley
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Joseph Bartley, also known as the WaterFilterFanatic, is a seasoned content writer who specializes in water filtration and water quality topics. On AllAboutWaterFilters, he has written a range of water filtration system reviews, water health and quality articles, swimming pool, hot tub and aquarium filtration guides, DIY methods to assist people clean their drinking water, and much more. Joseph enjoys spending his time working with the #AllAboutWaterFilters Editorial Team to provide some of the best quality water filtration content available on the web.

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