Can Drinking Water Heal Headaches?

When people suffer from headaches, it is convenient to pop a painkiller as a temporary solution, but that could lead to side effects and worsen health. Instead, they can figure out the underlying reasons behind the headaches, be it either emotional or physiological. But as a small step towards self-preservation, keeping one’s self hydrated and ensuring the body is not lacking fluids is important. 

It is equally important to be aware of the type of headache experienced: cluster headaches, migraines, hormonal headaches and sinus headaches. Though the symptoms and manifestations might vary, all of them can be dealt with by drinking water and maintaining a healthy level of hydration. The required water intake is 3.7 liters a day for men and 2.7 liters for women. 

Dehydration Headaches

Apart from the aforementioned classifications of headaches, there is a headache that occurs solely during dehydration. The pain from headaches caused by dehydration can be felt all over the head, the front or the back, there is no predictability and generalization as to which part of the head it affects most.

It is experienced along with the common symptoms of dehydration such as infrequent urination, dizziness, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, extreme thirst, lack of sweating, low blood pressure and increased heart rate. The other extreme symptoms include fever, delirium, unconsciousness and sunken eyes. 

There is no medical term for what constitutes these headaches that are caused by merely not drinking enough water. However, headaches post dialysis and binge drinking are widely accepted reasons. But headaches exclusively caused by simply not drinking enough water is not recognized medically speaking. 

A study led by Dr Joseph Noman Blau at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London was published in 2004 by the medical journal, Headache. The researchers had found that one in 10 people who were interrogated had experienced a headache after not consuming water for a certain amount of time. 

They are also of the opinion that headaches are a result of other factors. Therefore, dehydration headaches cannot be called a primary headache since the pain could often be accompanied by irritability and lack of focus.

“Water‐deprivation headache is common, recognized by the public, but not described in the medical literature. Here we delineate it as a primary headache, postulating that the pain arises from the meninges; that the brain is also involved is indicated by impaired concentration and irritability, although not studied in detail in this preliminary survey,” the study’s conclusion read.

How To Treat Dehydration Related Headaches

They usually occur among people who live in high altitudes and hot climate, especially the elderly, infants and young children. It also affects people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and kidney disease. It also affects endurance athletes who sweat a lot and people who take medication to stimulate urination. 

If you belong to any of the above categories, take slow and calculated sips, and do not gulp down a huge amount of water at one go since that could lead to vomiting. Just a glass or two could help within three hours of taking it. Replenish the body with electrolytes since the balance will be disturbed by dehydration. Consuming a sports drink with low sugar can help with resupplying the body with electrolytes lost during dehydration.  

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