Dehydration Headache: Simple Ways to Stay Healthy

Woman holding a glass of water

A small study published in the journal Headache points out that while a dehydration headache is common and recognized by the public, it’s not described in the medical literature. While it’s well established that dialysis and hangover headaches are associated with dehydration and the ubiquitous dehydration headache, water deprivation hasn’t been documented as a cause of headache. But a lack of research doesn’t mean that your dehydration headache isn’t real and treatable. Best of all, it’s preventable. The lack of proper nutrition and hydration can exacerbate the symptoms of any other conditions you may have as well.

What Causes Dehydration?

A dehydration headache may occur when you haven’t consumed enough fluids, but it can also be brought about by losing water. We lose fluids and electrolytes -substances that move electrical charges and signals throughout the body- in four major ways:

  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Urinating
  • Diarrhea

Signs of Dehydration

A dehydration headache often causes dull, throbbing pain. Dehydration can trigger migraine headaches as well as garden-variety headaches. The National Headache Foundation recommends considering whether you’re dehydrated any time you have a headache. Common signs of dehydration include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Dark yellow urine or decreased urination
  • Sticky or dry mouth
  • Irritability

How to Replace Fluids

If you think you may be suffering from a dehydration headache, a glass of water or two should make the headache go away within an hour or so. If your dehydration is severe, it’s important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes with an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte.

Preventing a Dehydration Headache

The best way to prevent a dehydration headache is, of course, to stay hydrated. Here are some tips for getting enough fluids each day:

  • Drink a large glass of water upon awakening each morning and an hour before going to bed each night.
  • Drink a glass of water with each meal
  • Drink water during and after a workout or while you’re outside on a hot day
  • Keep a water bottle on hand, and take sips frequently throughout the day
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are mostly water
  • Replace sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks with water

Staying hydrated will not only prevent a dehydration headache, but it will keep your body’s systems working optimally for better overall health.