Dehydration can cause a host of undesirable health effects that range from the annoying (nausea and headaches) to more serious conditions (kidney infections and depression). Headaches can range from annoying minor ones to debilitating migraines. But why would less-than-adequate water intake give you headaches? Here’s why.
When you don’t drink enough water -- and this varies from person to person depending on their weight, activity level, even climate they live in -- your cells throughout your body don’t get proper hydration. Your muscles lack water to bend and move smoothly. Your skin doesn’t get the hydration it needs to look plump and glowing. Your kidneys don’t get enough water to flush out toxins. And when it comes to headaches, studies have shown that lack of water leads to narrowing blood vessels in the head. These blood vessels narrow to try to regulate body fluid levels. This results in a headache, because it’s harder for oxygen and blood to get to the brain.
When you get a dehydration related headache, you may feel it in the front or back of the head, just on one side, or throughout the entire head. Does your head hurt even more when moving your head or while walking? That’s probably due to dehydration.
So what can you do to reduce or prevent dehydration related headaches?
- Drink water regularly throughout the day, not just when you feel thirsty.
- Increase your water intake in hotter climates or when you exercise.
- Don’t use alcohol or caffeinated drinks as a substitute for water. These are diuretics and will cause you to lose more water.
If you already have a headache due to dehydration, drink some water right away and you should feel better shortly.