That migraines are painful is a gross understatement. It’s not just the pulverizing headache that makes it a crippling condition but also the nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, smell, or sound that accompany the headache.
About 1 billion people worldwide suffer from migraines, and 90% of migraines are genetic.
It is the third most common illness across the world, affecting about 1 billion worldwide and about 12% of the American population. It also runs in your genes. About 90% of migraineurs report a family history.1
How To Use Water For Migraines
Take An Arm And Foot Bath In Hot water
Though they are so common, migraines still pose a problem for the medical community. While they know what triggers migraines, they are still baffled about how migraines happen. One theory mentions that migraines are caused by a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary body functions like breathing, digestion, or the dilation and constriction of blood vessels. Dilation of blood vessels or vasodilation is thought to be a cause for the throbbing headaches that characterize migraines.
Dip your arms and feet in about a tub of water of 110°F and get an ice massage on the forehead for about half an hour.
Many claim that this can be relieved by a hot hand and foot bath whereby the blood can be drawn from the head into the feet and legs and thus relieve the pain.
We have no evidence to support this logic, but very recently, a group of researchers who gave the patients hydrotherapy or water treatment found positive results. The patients were given a hot arm and foot bath with water (103°F to 110°F) along with an ice massage on the head for 20 minutes daily for 45 days in addition to the conventional medicines for migraine. The intensity and the frequency of migraines were found to decrease after this.2
So the next time you feel a migraine coming on, dip your feet and arms in a tub of hot water and get someone to massage your forehead with some ice. What if you are at a place where this treatment is impossible? Read on.
Drink Water To Relieve Migraine Headaches
Dehydration can be a cause of migraines and can make you experience the headaches more acutely.
If you haven’t had enough water or healthy fluids through the day, a migraine is just waiting around the corner. A 2004 study claimed that water deprivation leads to headaches and can prolong the duration of migraine headaches,3and a 2005 study found that more than one-third of the 95 patients studied experienced migraine attacks because of low fluid intake,4 which had led to dehydration and then to migraine. This theory was further supported by a 2010 study.5
This is because dehydration usually makes the blood volume drop, which reduces the flow of oxygen to the brain and also dilates the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. As we have already mentioned, vasodilation is thought to be a cause of migraines. Drinking water is a sure fix for such a condition.
Recent research, however, says that vasodilation may not be a factor for migraines.6But even in that case, drinking water makes sense. That is because dehydration increases brain activity related to painful stimuli7 and makes you experience pain more acutely. This can be reversed with rehydration.
How Much Water Should You Drink For Migraines?
To Cure Migraines
Drinking just 500 to 750 mL water can give you relief within 3 hours.
As soon as you feel a migraine attack coming on, or even if it’s already underway, drink water. In the 2004 study, Blau and his colleagues found that of the 34 patients they studied, the headache condition improved in 22 patients within 30 minutes of drinking an average of 500 mL water. Another 11 patients reported relief within 1 to 3 hours of drinking an average of 750 mL water.8 That amounts to a 97% success rate.
To Prevent Migraines
Increasing your daily water intake can reduce the pain intensity and duration.
Increasing the daily water intake also helps cut down on the hours of migraine suffered and the intensity of the pain. In a trial in 2005, 18 patients with migraine headaches were randomly given a dummy pill or the advice to drink an extra 1.5 L water every day for 12 weeks. Within 2 weeks, the total hours of headache dropped by 21 hours in the water group.
Drink at least 8 glasses a day to prevent dehydration-induced migraines.
So if you are prone to migraines, you can strike this trigger off your list by staying well hydrated through the day by drinking at least 8 glasses a day. Drinking enough water will help even if dehydration is not the trigger. That’s because water flushes out toxins from the body and reduces inflammation and staying hydrated will lower your pain perception.
|↑1||Migraine Facts. Migraine Research Foundation|
|↑2||Sujan, M. U., M. Raghavendra Rao, Ravikiran Kisan, Hulegar A. Abhishekh, Atchayaram Nalini, Trichur R. Raju, and T. N. Sathyaprabha. “Influence of hydrotherapy on clinical and cardiac autonomic function in migraine patients.” Journal of neurosciences in rural practice 7, no. 1 (2016): 109.|
|↑3, ↑8||Blau, Joseph Norman, Christian Alexander Kell, and Julia Maria Sperling. “Water‐deprivation headache: A new headache with two variants.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 44, no. 1 (2004): 79-83.|
|↑4||Blau, Joseph N. “Water deprivation: a new migraine precipitant.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 45, no. 6 (2005): 757-759.|
|↑5||Wöber, Christian, and Çiçek Wöber-Bingöl. “Triggers of migraine and tension-type headache.” Handbook of clinical neurology 97 (2010): 161-172.|
|↑6||Amin, Faisal Mohammad, Mohammad Sohail Asghar, Anders Hougaard, Adam Espe Hansen, Vibeke Andrée Larsen, Patrick JH de Koning, Henrik BW Larsson, Jes Olesen, and Messoud Ashina. “Magnetic resonance angiography of intracranial and extracranial arteries in patients with spontaneous migraine without aura: a cross-sectional study.” The Lancet Neurology 12, no. 5 (2013): 454-461.|
|↑7||Ogino, Yuichi, Takahiro Kakeda, Koji Nakamura, and Shigeru Saito. “Dehydration enhances pain-evoked activation in the human brain compared with rehydration.” Anesthesia & Analgesia 118, no. 6 (2014): 1317-1325.|