Summer and the Heat: Dehydration & Headaches

By July 5, 2016No Comments

Many people experience more headaches during the summer and they’re not sure why. We, at the Miami Headache Institute, see patients in this position regularly and often our first question is this: Are you drinking enough water? That’s because there’s a specific link between headaches and dehydration.

Proper hydration affects the entire body

When a person isn’t properly hydrated, their body can’t work as well as it should as a whole. It can affect blood pressure, muscle tension, dexterity, and chemical balance overall. With this combination of issues, it’s no wonder that dehydration and migraine headaches are often linked.

Can dehydration cause headaches?

There’s no question that dehydration can greatly affect the body, but the question still remains: Are headaches caused directly by dehydration? They can be. For people suffering from chronic headaches, we always recommend talking to a physician for a full diagnosis. However, it could be that your headaches are caused directly by dehydration.

How to stay properly hydrated

Drinking water is one of the most important ways to stay hydrated, but it’s not the only one. Foods are also excellent sources of hydration. In fact, the old adage to drink eight cups of water per day is no longer used by many professionals who say that the amount of water you need to drink will vary based on how much water is in the foods you’re eating. For example, cucumbers and celery are both excellent sources of hydration.

That said, drinking water is important – especially during the hot days of summer. For most people, drinking 64 ounces of water on the average day is a good goal. On hotter days that number can as much as double, especially for people who are active outdoors.

Think of it like this: When you sweat you’re exuding moisture. It’s a very complicated process that your body uses to cool you off, but in order to do so it must use its supply of water. That water needs to be replaced in your body and drinking good old-fashioned water is the best way to do so.

Treating headaches caused by dehydration

Most people who have headaches from dehydration tend to have them during physical activity. When the headache starts to come on, the first thing to do is to reduce or stop that physical activity. Taking regular breaks and resting is advised if you must continue the activity for some reason.

Then, get plenty of water while avoiding the urge to drink huge amounts in one go. The human body is only capable of absorbing a small amount of water a time. Drinking too much too fast can lead to bloating and nausea, so small amounts every 10 or 15 minutes is what we recommend.

When a person sweats they don’t just lose water, they also lose electrolytes. Replacing these via powders or sports drinks can be helpful. In some cases, taking an over the counter pain killer can be helpful as well. Just remember that any pain killer is only treating the symptoms and not the actual problem.

Miami Headache Institute

If you have questions about headaches, please contact Miami Headache Institute. We are dedicated to helping all our patients live headache-free and we are confident that we can help you.