February 6, 2018

Dehydration Migraine: The Connection between Water Deficiency and Migraine Headaches

dehydration headache

Do you suffer from recurring migraine headaches? If headaches are nothing new to you, you might want to check the amount of water you take every day. One of dehydration’s most common symptoms is, you guessed it, dehydration migraines.

Staying hydrated is a critical part of survival. The human body, is, after all, made up of 60% water. The lack of fluids could affect major organs including the brain. And this is precisely the reason why your head hurts each time your body lacks water.

The Connection between Dehydration and Headaches

Headaches are a common sign of dehydration and a trigger for migraines. Unlike headaches, migraine headaches are more painful and their effects are longer lasting. Migraine headaches are associated with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. It is also described an excruciating, one-sided headache.

It’s been said that dehydration migraines are similar to a tension headache. The pain is focused on one side of the head and the pain becomes even more intense when moving the head.

Studies reveal that people who drink more water (additional liter each day) suffered shorter hours of migraine pains. The pain is also less intense after increasing the participants’ water intake.

dehydration migraines

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Science has yet to pinpoint the connection between migraine headaches and dehydration. However, health experts believe that water deficiency causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. This occurs in an attempt to regulate the body fluids. When this happens, the brain’s access to oxygenated blood is limited, leading to dehydration migraines.


Another theory is that the lack of fluids causes the brain to lose volume. When you are not drinking enough water, the body starts holding onto to as much fluids as it possibly could. But when you’re dangerously dehydrated, the organs, including the brain, start losing volume. Studies show that dehydration has a profound effect on the brain’s structure.

The brain is made up of 73% water so it is quite possible that the organ shrinks each time the body struggles to regulate the fluid levels. When the brain loses volume, it pulls away from the skull, which triggers the pain receptors, causing dehydration migraines.

Preventing Dehydration Migraines

So what can you do to prevent dehydration migraines? Start by drinking as much water as you can. Always check the color of your urine. If it is light yellow or clear, you are well-hydrated. If it’s dark yellow to almost orange, you need to increase your water intake.

If you can, cut back on alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks. These drinks have a mild diuretic effect, which causes you to lose more fluids. If you live somewhere hot and humid or you are overweight, increase your water intake from the average 8 glasses of water. This goes also if you live an active lifestyle or you engage in strenuous activities. Our hydration needs depend on many factors, including our lifestyle, weight, and age!

dehydration migraines

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If the weather is extremely hot, limit your outdoor activities and do not stay out for too long. You will lose more fluids that way. Go out during the cooler parts of the day and stay hydrated at all times. This goes especially if you are about to engage in a sporting event.


Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent dehydration migraines. Always keep a water bottle handy so you have access to drinking water at any given time, even when you’re on the road!

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