Headache Information-related to dehydration

Understanding Dehydration as a Headache Trigger

Treating and Preventing a Headache From Water Loss

adapted from article by Colleen Doherty, MD    

While many know the adage about drinking six to eight glasses of water each day, the truth of the matter is that many of us don’t follow through on it.

Dehydration can sneak up on you quite quickly. In fact, by the time you're thirsty, you may already be dehydrated, which can lead to a host of ailments, including headaches.

Basics of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water (through processes like sweat or urine) than it takes in. Technically speaking, dehydration occurs from water loss alone or through salt and water loss (for example, vomiting or diarrhea). 

Regardless, dehydration is more likely to occur in warmer climates, with increased physical activity, and when someone has a fever.

Symptoms and Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can be mild and as it progresses, these symptoms and signs may occur:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Dark yellow urine or urinating less frequently than usual
  • Feeling dizzy or like you might faint
  • No tears when crying
  • Eyes that appear sunken in the face
  • Dry mouth or cracked lips

Connection Between Dehydration and Headaches

Dehydration is a common underlying cause of headaches, and it’s also a common trigger for migraines.

Dehydration, though, may also lead to a headache that resembles a tension headache, which is a headache that feels like a tightening or pressure sensation all over the head. 

Avoiding a Headache From Dehydration

Ensuring that your body gets enough fluids is the best way to avoid a dehydration headache. Some useful tips include:

  • Take in as much liquid as you need to not feel thirsty.
  • Drink enough water so that your urine is a light yellow or clear color.
  • Remember that not all fluids are created equal.
  • Recognize that if you are overweight, live in a warm climate, are at a higher altitude or engaged in a strenuous physical activity, you may require more water intake than the recommended eight glasses of water.
  • Keep in mind that consuming more fruits and vegetables, like cucumbers and watermelon, is a way to increase your water intake. That being said, eating these nutritious foods is not a supplement for drinking pure water.
  • Seek out shade when it's hot out, plan outside activities for cooler parts of the day, and hydrate in advance of any sporting or active event.

Drinking water regularly may help you feel better and stave off head pain when it comes to your headache and migraine health.

Treating a Headache From Dehydration

To treat headaches triggered by dehydration, the body needs to become hydrated again. Drinking water should make you feel better within a half hour or so. Although for some people it may take up to three hours. Sometimes sports drinks or Pedialyte for children may be a good option because they provide electrolytes and carbohydrates to help absorb water better.

In addition, be sure to stay in a cool environment and rest, so that your body is able to rehydrate without sweating.

Be sure to call your child's doctor if he or she is experiencing vomiting that lasts for more than one day or diarrhea that lasts more than a few days. Other reasons to call your doctor are:

  • If your child cannot keep any fluids down or has not been drinking for many hours.
  • If your older child has not urinated in the last six to eight hours, or if your baby or toddler hasn't had a wet diaper in four to six hours.
  • There is blood in your child's vomit or stool.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.