Dehydration Headaches: Causes, Signs & Prevention
Whether it’s a dull pain, a throbbing pain, or a full-blown migraine, there’s nothing like a headache to put a major dent in your day. And it’s important to pinpoint the cause of your headache, so you can get back on track to feeling good again. That’s why I want you to consider this: could your headache be caused by dehydration?
You probably know that proper hydration is a huge component when it comes to good health. Among many other functions, water regulates body temperature, supports joint health, protects your spinal cord, and helps your body rid itself of waste.
Turns out, water can also help keep head pain-free. Scientific studies are proving that water deprivation plays quite a role when it come to headaches. One study found that approximately one-third of migraine sufferers identify dehydration as a migraine trigger. Another study found that dehydration may trigger not only migraines, but tension headaches, too.
Are you ready to cut out this headache trigger?
Common Causes of Dehydration
Throughout any given day, your body is constantly gaining and losing water. Fluid intake increases the amount of water in your body, while perspiration, urination, and bowel movements decrease the amount of water in your body.
Now, you become dehydrated when you lose more water than you take in. Here are some common factors that can result in dehydration:
- Not drinking enough fluid: Sometimes, dehydration is simply caused by inadequate intake of fluids.
- Sweating: Hot weather, fevers, and exercise can all cause perspiration. Perspiration is mainly made up of water and electrolytes. So when you sweat, you’re essentially losing water and electrolytes through your skin.
- Diarrhea: You might think that diarrhea means you have too much water in your body, but that’s not the case. Diarrhea actually contributes to dehydration, because it cuts down on the amount of water your gastrointestinal tract can absorb.
- Frequent urination: Certain medical conditions and medications may cause increased urination, which can decrease the amount of water in your body.
Signs You May Be Dehydrated
Other signs of being dehydrated may help you pinpoint whether or not you’re experiencing dehydration headaches. Some of these signs are obvious. And others? Not so much. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Thirst: You’ve probably heard it said that by the time you experience thirst, you’re already dehydrated. And it’s true. By the time you’re thirsty, your body will already have lost 1 to 2 percent of its water content. Another important thing to keep in mind? If you’re elderly, you’re much less likely to actually feel thirsty. For that reason, it’s important not to rely on thirst alone as an indicator of dehydration.
- Fatigue: If you’re dehydrated, you’re likely to feel quite tired.
- Cognitive difficulties: Being dehydrated can affect your brain function. You may find that you have a hard time paying attention and remembering things. You might also have slower reaction times.
- Lightheadedness: You may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or “out of it.”
- Lack of skin elasticity: A lack of water can make your skin less elastic. Try pinching the skin on the top of your hand. If it doesn’t snap back as quickly as it usually does, you may be dehydrated.
- Dark urine: The yellow color of urine is caused by a pigment called “urochrome.” If there’s a lot of water in your urine, the urochrome will be less concentrated, and your urine will appear light yellow, or clear. But when there’s less water in your body, the amount of urochrome is more concentrated, resulting in darker, and even orange colored urine.
Preventing Dehydration Headaches
How can you prevent dehydration headaches? The answer is quite simple: hydrate. Yes, it might seem too good to be true, but a little water can, in fact, go a long way. A scientific study found that sufferers of dehydration headaches experienced relief within 30 minutes to 3 hours just by drinking water.
Another study has shown that patients who increased their daily water intake by one full liter experienced fewer, less intense headaches over time.
So, just how much water should you be drinking each day? Well, if you’re an adult working a sedentary job, approximately 1.5 liters.
But keep in mind, certain factors will increase your water requirements. For example, if you:
- Have a medical condition that causes increased urination
… you’ll need to drink more water.
Here are a few easy ways to drink more water:
- Carry a reusable water bottle and sip from it throughout your day.
- Increase hydration on hot days.
- Drink water frequently during exercise.
Don’t Just Drink Fluids … Eat Them, Too
Water isn’t your body’s sole source of hydration. In fact, approximately 20 percent of your body’s fluid intake comes from the food you eat. So, by eating foods high in water content, you can actually help your body rehydrate.
Lectin-free foods that are high in water content include celery, carrots, radishes, leafy greens, romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower. And if you want to go a step further, we recommend making an investment in a supplement that will protect you from Lectins.
Don’t Forget To Replace Your Electrolytes
But food isn’t just good for replenishing water. It’s also good for replenishing electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals, like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals perform a variety of functions, like supporting the health of your cells, regulating your body’s pH, and balancing the amount of water in your body. But dehydration can deprive you of electrolytes, so it’s essential to replenish them.
Electrolyte-rich lectin-free foods include spinach, avocados, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, green bananas, coconut yogurt, macadamia nuts, and pecans.
Hydrated and Pain Free
Headaches don’t have to be a part of your life. And making simple changes, like increasing your hydration, can help make that a reality. You can begin by identifying factors that may make you more prone to dehydration. The next step? Arm yourself with a reusable water bottle and begin incorporating more water and electrolyte-rich foods into your diet. The antidote to dehydration headaches is truly within your grasp.