Dehydration Headaches FAQs: Can Dehydration Cause Headaches?
Headaches can be caused by many different factors, and one of them is dehydration. This is a serious condition that goes beyond not drinking enough water or feeling thirsty. To understand how to treat dehydration headaches and relieve the pain, it’s important to understand what dehydration is and what happens to the body physiologically when its dehydrated.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the body loses water and other fluids more rapidly than it’s taking fluids in. It’s natural for the body to lose water through sweat, urine, saliva, and stool, but when too much is lost, the risk for some serious symptoms, including severe dehydration headaches can arise.
These are some of the most common causes of dehydration:
- Excessive heat exposure
- Prolonged exercise
- Limited access to safe drinking water
Symptoms of Dehydration
The symptoms of dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, and in the most severe cases, it can even lead to death. It’s important to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen, change, or don’t subside.
Here are some of the symptoms you may experience while dehydrated:
- Unusually strong thirst
- General dehydration headaches
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired ability to sweat or urinate
However, dehydration affects different people in different ways, and there are some other surprising symptoms. These include dry skin, bad breath, muscle cramps, and even food cravings for sweet foods.
The Effects of Dehydration on the Body
Since the body is made up of more than two-thirds water, dehydration can be devastating. This means that the effects on the body can be significant and quite widespread.
For example, when a body becomes dehydrated, joints become less lubricated so it feels more difficult to move. Dehydration also affects the digestive system and the internal balance between salts and sugars, which prevents normal functioning. For some people, dehydration also causes pressure in the brain, which results in painful and uncomfortable dehydration headaches. Dehydration also prevents the skin from staying healthy because environmental and chemical toxins remain trapped inside.
Can Dehydration Cause Headaches?
There’s a strong connection between dehydration and headaches, and it has to do with the cushioning around your brain. The brain is protected inside a fluid sack that keeps it safe and prevents it from touching the sides of the skull during movement. When dehydrated, and that protective sack loses some of the fluid, and the brain may press against the skull and cause pain.
When dehydrated, the blood volume also decreases, which limits the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. This makes the dehydration headaches even worse because the blood vessels in the brain dilate and can become swollen.
A dehydration headache can feel different from other types of headaches, so it’s important to assess the specific symptoms. Dehydration headaches can occur at any point on the head – the front, back, sides, or all over. But the best way to determine if this is the type of headache is whether movement makes it more painful. This includes bending over to pick things up, climbing stairs, or even just walking.
Treatment for Dehydration Headaches
If a doctor determines that dehydration is the cause of the headaches, then it is important to treat the symptoms of both reduced bodily fluids and head pain. Headaches that are caused by dehydration almost always accompanied by other symptoms too, like the ones noted above.
To start, reduce physical activity and start drinking small amounts of water every 15 minutes throughout the day. Beverages with electrolytes may also help to replenish the body’s supply and boost water retention.
The replenishment process can take several hours or longer, so the active ingredients of aspirin and acetaminophen can provide fast relief in the meantime so you can keep moving.
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