Dehydration is a well known trigger for migraine attacks and “getting enough water” is always a recommendation when talking to a doctor about headaches. However, even though staying hydrated is very important, it is also vital to have the right type of hydration.
What is dehydration-
What do we mean by dehydration? Water makes up a large portion of the fluid inside of our intravascular system- mainly our arteries and veins. However, in order to keep the fluids where they need to be, it is important to also have electrolytes in our fluids, including sodium and potassium. Most of the time, when we are dehydrated, we have lost water as well as these other electrolytes. When we re-hydrate, it is important to not just have water, but these “salts” in our fluid so the water can stay where it needs to.
Water or fluids are lost from our body in many ways. This includes everyday processes, like urinating, sweating and breathing. It can be worsened if we are sick as well, with more water losses through diarrhea and vomiting. If these fluids are not replenished in time, it can lead to lack of fluids that are needed for our organs to function properly. If the brain does not have enough fluid, it is possible that it can lead to pain through stretching of the veins and meninges, which can irritate the nerves that surround them.
Some of the common signs of dehydration include, increased thirst, lightheadedness, fatigue and headaches. It can be a common trigger for people with migraine.
When dehydration is mild, it may be enough to just have water. However, for those with migraine or severe dehydration, water with electrolytes are a better option. Some of the drinks that are available with electrolytes include sports drinks like Gatorade, but many of these also have a lot of sugar.
Drinks like coconut water can be a better option because they also have electrolytes like sodium, potassium as well as manganese without excess sugar. You can also make your own electrolyte drink by mixing water about 8 oz with a pinch of salt and a citrus fruit like lime or orange for the added electrolytes. You can add in some sweetness with honey or a tad bit of sugar to taste. You can switch flat water with carbonated as well for extra flavor.
What is your favorite way to hydrate? Tell us here!
Arca, K.N., Halker Singh, R.B. Dehydration and Headache. Curr Pain Headache Rep 25, 56 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-021-00966-z