Dehydration is a common problem that people often don’t take seriously enough. While it is indicated by increased thirst or urination, a less obvious but common symptom is a headache. Surprised? Read on to know what the symptoms and causes of a dehydration headache are as well as how you can tackle and prevent it.
Symptoms Of A Dehydration Headache
A dehydration headache is accompanied by symptoms similar to those of a regular headache. However, each person experiences it in a different way. Some people may experience pain similar to a hangover headache – a pulsating ache on both sides of the head, which gets worse when you indulge in physical activity – while some people experience this an ache only on one side of the head.
A dehydration headache is said to get worse when you move your head, bend down, or walk around a lot.
If you’re mildly to moderately dehydrated, you’ll experience symptoms like:1
- excess thirst
- relatively less urination
- dark yellow urine
- a dry mouth
- dry skin
Causes Of A Dehydration Headache
Although how dehydration results in a headache is still to be proven, it is believed that blood vessels in the head narrow when body fluids that carry blood and oxygen to the brain reduce. The low blood and oxygen supply to the brain, in turn, could be responsible for a dehydration headache. A study involving dehydrated participants showed that they experienced headaches and concentration trouble among other symptoms, which were relieved with increased fluid intake.2
As the name suggests, a dehydration headache is the result of the loss of more body water than consumed, or dehydration. This can happen because of a number of reasons like:
- forgetting to drink water
- working out and not drinking sufficient water to replenish the water lost through sweat
- not drinking enough water on a hot, humid day
- taking medicines that result in the loss of excess body water as a side effect
Water is crucial for many bodily functions, making its availability in adequate amounts essential. So, dehydration in severe cases may be life threatening. Elderly people, young children, and people with chronic illnesses should be especially careful to avoid dehydration. However, even a mild case of dehydration can result in a dehydration headache.
Simple Ways To Get Rid Of A Dehydration Headache
1. The easiest way to fix dehydration is to rehydrate. Drink a few glasses of water as soon as you feel a dehydration headache coming on. This will help in relieving you of that nasty headache. Remember to sip on the water slowly to avoid vomiting.
2. Dehydration because of sweating in hot weather can make you lose a lot of essential minerals. And the best way to be rid of a dehydration headache in such instances is to consume electrolyte drinks, which you can also make easily at home. These drinks replenish the minerals lost and help you regain your energy by bringing about electrolyte balance.
3. If you have a dehydration headache that’s causing your head to pound, placing some ice on it can do wonders. You could use a store-bought ice pack or quickly make one at home.
- Take a few ice cubes and crush them lightly.
- Put the crushed ice in a plastic bag.
- Lie down in a peaceful spot with the ice pack on your head for a while. You’re sure to feel relief in a short while.
- You could also wet a soft cloth, place it in the freezer for some time, and then use it as an ice pack.
4. Resting in a cool environment also works when you’ve been in the sun and lost a lot of water because of excessive sweating.
Tips To Prevent A Dehydration Headache
If you’ve observed that dehydration is the cause for your frequent headaches, here are simple steps you can take to prevent these headaches in the first place.
- Depending on your body type, the kind of climate you live in, and the amount of physical activity you engage in every day, you may require more or less water than the recommended eight glasses per day. Ensure that you drink enough water so that you don’t end up dehydrated with a dreadful headache.
- The easiest way to tell if you are dehydrated is by the color of your urine. If you notice that your urine is a dark yellow color, you might want to reach for your water bottle to ward off a possible dehydration headache. A well-hydrated person will have urine that is light yellow or clear.
- Avoid alcohol and coffee, which are extremely dehydrating and are likely to increase the chances of a dehydration headache.
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables as they are great for increasing your water intake. That said, they are not a replacement for plain water.
Ward off a dehydration headache by staying hydrated as much as possible. If the intensity of your headache doesn’t reduce even after drinking sufficient water, consult your doctor to rule out serious possibilities.