Headaches and Dehydration

A relatively unknown fact about headaches, even chronic and severe headaches, is they are often either caused or exacerbated by dehydration. There are certainly other causes of headaches, some of which require specific treatment, but even when there is a clear and diagnosed cause of headaches, if your body is also dehydrated, the headache pain will be worse unless and until your body?s healthy fluid levels are restored.


Why does water have such an impact on head pain? The human brain is more than 75% water, and it is very sensitive to the amount of water available to it. When the brain detects that the water supply is too low, it begins to produce histamines. This is essentially a process of water rationing and conservation, in order to safeguard the brain in case the water shortage continues for a long period of time. The histamines directly cause pain and fatigue ? in other words, a headache, and the low energy that usually accompanies it.

One of the basic facts about our bodies that is often forgotten in our current culture is that pain has a function. Pain is the body?s way of telling us that something is wrong, so that we will do something about it. Unfortunately, when we take a pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or an antihistamine, we are responding to the wrong message ? we are doing something about the pain, but not doing anything about the underlying cause of the pain ? which is what the body was trying to get us to pay attention to. We think that because the pain is gone, the problem is solved, when in fact all we have done is to tell our body, in effect, to ?shut up.?

The next time you have a headache, instead of reaching immediately for the pain medication, try something different. Take a moment to be still, listen to your body and see if you can tell what it is trying tell you. Chances are very good that it is telling you you need a couple of glasses of water. Taking a short break from whatever you were doing is usually a pretty good idea, too, if you can. But even if you can?t, two glasses of water, preferably clean filtered water, will usually give you relief, and in about the same amount of time as your pain reliever would have taken effect. And you?ll have the satisfaction of knowing you addressed a cause of the problem, not just the symptom.

Ann Hession is the founder of Egyptian Artisans. A graduate of Harvard University (1985), she has worked in the natural health/natural living field for over 15 years. Great Water Now is dedicated to providing quality information about water and health and promoting the use of home water filters for health and longevity.

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  • nukenin says
    doesn't vitamin c help relieve some of the damage caused by drinking, making the hangover shorter?
  • SJPONeill says
    An oldie but a goodie...since losing my job in November, I have been doing contract and project work from home. My constant companion around the house has been a 1.5 litre water bottle that gets topped up every time I pass near a water chiller. The new results have been that I no longer get the headaches mentioned above by working in a dry old office trying to meet deadlines; the water has a certain gap filling function so I don't get the munchies the same way I used to and lost 10kg in the first three months of being at home fulltime; and generally feel a lot better and healthier than before.

    On hot days, especially if I am working outside, I still do the old Singapore trick of adding a pinch of salt to the bottle to replace electrolytes that are being sweated out...easy and healthy once you get in the habit and don't overdo the salt - if you can taste it, it's way too much...
  • Mcknick says
    LOL at vit c making the hangover shorter ... Vit c is an antioxidant which won't effect a hangover at all really, what you need is H20 and Vit B12 (berroca is a good source of this) The headache from drinking is exactly what this article is about, brain cells being deprived of water

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