Is Drinking Cold Water Unhealthy?

If you have used social media lately, you may have seen posts claiming that it is dangerous to drink cold water in the heat. That would be a bummer, since there is nothing better than a cold glass of water on a hot day. Experts say that it is possible for the body to enter a state of shock after a person drinks ice-cold water in very hot weather, but that this is extremely rare (per Snopes). There is also no scientific support for the idea that cold water can lead to colds or sore throats. But for some people, there may be a few other drawbacks (via Medical News Today).

A small Korean study published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that cold water may exacerbate symptoms for people with achalasia, a rare disorder that makes it hard to swallow food and drinks. The study also found that hot water could help relieve symptoms. Additionally, a study of nearly 700 women in 2001 found that nearly 8% of participants reported a headache after drinking cold water through a straw. Headaches were twice as likely among women who had a recent history of migraines.

Some benefits of drinking cold water

Cold water may be preferable when you are exercising, especially in the heat. One 2012 study published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that male athletes who drank cold water during exercise experienced a lower increase in body temperature than did those who drank room-temperature water. A 2014 study in PLOS One found that cold water may improve endurance exercise in a hot and humid climate. This lends credence to an earlier study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that found that cold water may make it easier to exercise in the heat, allowing people to exercise for longer periods of time. 

Either way, water is incredibly important for your health. Water helps your body maintain a healthy temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and electrolyte level according to Harvard Health Publishing. It also helps you digest food and avoid constipation. If you don't drink enough water, you can also risk dehydration.

So is cold water bad for you? That depends on you and your preferences. If drinking cold water gives you headaches or otherwise makes you feel bad, you may want to avoid it. If cold water just makes you feel refreshed, there is nothing wrong with it — especially if it leads you to drink more water than you would otherwise. If your choice is between no water or cold water, definitely go for the latter. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends freezing water bottles to make ice-cold water to enjoy throughout the day.