What does water have to do with headaches? Headaches are a common symptom of moderate dehydration. According to the National Headache Foundation, incorrect balances of fluids, water, and electrolytes can contribute to headaches. In fact, some headaches – like migraines – are often a result of dehydration. Sensations of thirst mean that you’re already dehydrated.

About “dehydration headaches”

We all experience headaches from time to time, so how can you identify a “dehydration headache” from other types of headaches? Dehydration headaches are commonly known as secondary headaches and are typically caused by inadequate fluid intake. Why?

The body requires adequate balances of fluid intake and output as well as electrolyte levels for proper functioning. On a daily basis, our bodies lose water through exercise, sweating, and urination.

Every cell in the human body is composed in some part with water. Water is necessary for innumerable cellular, tissue, muscle, and organ functions. When a cell is dehydrated, it can literally ‘shrink’ due to loss of fluids. Think of a plump, juicy orange and a dried out orange – same principle.

It may sound odd, but this “shrinkage” can have an effect on the fluids that surround and protect the brain. Dehydration causes brain tissues to temporarily ‘shrink’, resulting in brain cells and tissues actually pulling away from the skull. This activity can cause pain.

Be aware of the symptoms of dehydration to reduce risk of experiencing a dehydration headache or even a migraine. Dehydration headaches are typically felt anywhere on the head, as opposed to other types of headaches such as a sinus headache felt in the face or a tension headache that can be felt in the neck. Dehydration headaches can be felt at the front, the rear, sides, or throughout the entire head.

Preventing a dehydration headache

One of the most effective ways to prevent a dehydration headache is to increase your fluid intake, especially during hot weather or before, during, and after exercise. Reduce intake of caffeinated beverages and alcohol and drink between 4 to 6 cups of water per day.