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How to Deal With a Dehydration Headache

Coping with the pain that comes along with a headache can be a painful and even lengthy process. Your day seems to drag on, and the thumping in your head prevents you from making progress in your daily tasks. It may seem like the only thing you can do is lay down in a dark room and wait for the pain to subside. While this can certainly be true, recognizing the signs of a dehydration headache can quickly help you find relief from pain with the correct treatment.

What is a Headache?

A headache is a pain that is in your head or facial regions that often feels like drumming, thumping, or pounding. While we don’t fully understand what happens when we get headaches, we know that our blood vessels can signal or communicate pain to our brains. Our brain tissue and skull cannot recognize the pain themselves since they don’t have the nerves. Many different things can cause headaches, and not all of them are equal. It’s important to recognize when it’s time to be concerned about a headache or facial pain or when it’s something that can be easily treated at home.

What Causes Headaches?

A variety of things can cause headaches. The type of headache can help determine the cause and the best course of treatment. Not all headaches are created equal, and some types of headaches are not as straightforward as taking an over-the-counter medication. Below we have outlined the most common types of headaches.

This is caused by stress or muscle tightness. Pain is often around the neck, forehead, scalp, or shoulders. It may feel like a dull ache but not necessarily a throb.

Cluster headaches are typically more painful and may feel like a stabbing or piercing pain on one side of the face. You may sweat or experience redness and possibly nasal congestion. During a cluster headache, you might have a few headaches in one day that come and go. These can occur regularly for some people.

These typically occur when someone is dealing with an allergic reaction. The pain will be felt around your sinus areas, such as the nose and eyes. This happens more often during seasonal changes.

For women, it is common to experience headaches related to hormone changes and menstruation. They can happen at any time during the cycle or for women experiencing birth control changes.

These types of headaches happen when the body needs hydration, which can happen for a variety of reasons, such as heat or illness.

The Basics of Dehydration Headaches

Staying hydrated allows our body to function properly. While we naturally lose water during exercise, hot days, having the flu, being in a sauna, etc., we need to replenish what is lost. This is why a lot of runners can be seen with electrolyte drinks to help boost the fluids in their bodies while they quickly lose water when sweating. When we are dehydrated, the brain can pull away from the skull and contract, which is why we feel the pain and throbbing of a dehydration headache.

What are the Symptoms of a Dehydration Headache?

A dehydration headache will not feel like a sinus headache. You will not have pain around the neck or in your face. The pain will be around the head, and movement may be painful. It will often feel like a dull type of pain. Other symptoms include:

  • Reduced Urination From Lack of Water
  • Dark-Colored Urine
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of Skin Elasticity
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Thirst

There may be a fever, delirium, or fainting in extreme cases. You may also experience muscle cramps, a dry mouth, or cooler temperature skin. These symptoms are a result of your body not having the proper fluids, which in turn forces your body to work a bit harder for regular function.

Preventing a Dehydration Headache

Try to maintain your water intake throughout the day. This can be particularly challenging to some people, so get creative in how you can remind yourself. There are water bottles with time stamps on them to prompt you to keep up with your water intake. If you know you are about to sweat a lot soon, like when you will attend an outdoor event or go for a long run, try to hydrate in advance. Eating fruits and vegetables is often helpful, as they mostly contain water and other beneficial nutrients and vitamins. Keep in mind that if you are consuming alcoholic beverages, that will contribute to dehydration.

Some people will find that they are more at risk for dehydration due to extenuating circumstances that cannot be helped. In these cases, the best thing to do is utilize the above preventative measures and be diligent about water consumption. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Living at a Higher Altitude
  • Being an Infant, child, or Elderly Person
  • Being Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness Like Diabetes
  • Taking Medications that can Contribute to Dehydration
  • Being a Highly Active Athlete
  • Those Who Live in Hot Climates

How Long Does it Take for Dehydration Headache to go Away?

This entirely depends on you! If you notice the above symptoms or believe your headache to be related to dehydration, start to drink water and fluids. While pure water is best, if you feel your body needs an extra boost of electrolytes, you can grab a sports drink. There are also hydration ‘boosters’ you can add to your water if absolutely necessary. Most dehydration headaches can start to be alleviated in as quickly as a half-hour of drinking water, but it has been reported that it can take up to three hours to go away. The sooner you get fluids in, the shorter the headache.

How do You Stop Dehydration Headaches?

The best thing you can do to stop a dehydration headache is drink water to restore your fluids. If you are suffering from severe dehydration from illness or excessive workouts, you can grab a rehydration solution that has glucose and electrolytes, which can help speed up the process of hydrating. Relax in a cool, dark environment to prevent yourself from losing any more fluids and avoid any potential triggers like bright lights or loud noises. Until the body can catch up on fluids, you can grab over-the-counter medicines like Ibuprofen.

When to See a Doctor

Dehydration can be severe and dangerous. Many people end up in the hospital each year from dehydration from things such as illness when fluids will not remain in the body. If you are experiencing symptoms like fever, delirium, feeling faint, confusion, or extreme pain, you should see a doctor. In these cases, you will likely be hooked up to IV fluids which can quickly replenish hydration and provide you with other helpful vitamins. These IVs often have medications that can help your pain subside. Restoring lost fluids will help ease your pain and get you back on your feet.

Drip Hydration Can Help You Rehydrate In The Comfort Of Your Own Home

Drip Hydration is open from 8 AM to 8 PM, seven days a week. Our certified nurses are on call to come directly to your home to deliver any IV infusion of your choice. If you’re suffering from a hangover or have just done an intense workout, IV hydration is a great way to quickly recover and get back to your day-to-day.

Simply schedule an appointment, and we will come directly to you. Drip Hydration offers convenient services that will improve your health and can be worked around even the most hectic schedule.