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Could Dehydration Be Causing Your Headaches?

Did you know that as much as 75% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration?

That means the majority of the American population falls short of the 6-8 daily cups prescribed by the Institute of Medicine – which, in medical terms, means that most people in the U.S are functioning in a chronic state of dehydration.

With Americans reportedly buying more soda than water, the news may not come as a shock – but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of proper hydration because it can lead to a whole host of other problems, including headaches and migraines.

Dehydration Headaches

A dehydration headache is a secondary headache, obviously caused by not having enough fluid in the body. Dehydration headaches can be relatively mild or severe as a migraine.

The body requires the proper balance of fluid and electrolytes to function properly. Every day, the body loses water through daily activities, such as sweating and urinating. Most of the time, the amount of fluid lost is easily balanced through drinking or eating fluid-rich foods. However, sometimes the body loses water faster than it can be replenished. During these times, the body can become dehydrated, which can lead to complications including  dehydration headaches.

When the body is dehydrated, the brain can temporarily contract or shrink from fluid loss. This mechanism causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing pain and resulting in a dehydration headache.

Once re-hydrated, the brain plumps up and returns to its normal state, relieving the headache.

Symptoms of Dehydration

A dehydration headache can feel like a dull headache or an intense migraine. Pain from a dehydration headache can occur at the front, back, side, or all over the head.

Since dehydration headaches only occur when the body is dehydrated, symptoms of dehydration will occur with the headache — such as:

  • extreme thirst
  • reduced urination
  • dark colored urine
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • dry, sticky mouth
  • loss of skin elasticity
  • low blood pressure
  • increased heart rate

Treating Dehydration Headaches

Thankfully treating a headache or migraine caused by dehydration is relatively easy.

  • Increase fluid intake
  • Replace lost electrolytes with a sports drink
  • Temporarily decrease physical activity and avoid heat to reduce sweating

For faster relief, a person may also want to take an acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain.

Unfortunately, hospitalization may be required for more extreme cases of dehydration.

Migraines, Headache Treatment in Southern California

Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.