Can Dehydration Trigger a Migraine?

Avoiding the Migraine Dehydration Trigger

Migraine DehydrationAs we all know, fluids are taken in via drinking and eating. They are excreted in sweat, urine, feces and breath. Most people expel about three quarts of water every day.

Your body needs to have the proper amount of hydration to function properly. When fluids are properly balanced, you take in and lose approximately the same amount of liquid each day. If too much fluid is retained, swelling may result, causing headaches.

The swelling may or may not be visible. For example, many women experience migraine headaches around their menstrual periods. This is partly due to hormonal shifts, which result in puffiness and fluid retention.

Dehydration is the opposite of fluid retention: there is an inadequate amount of fluid in the systems of the body. Electrolytes and other compounds become more concentrated; tissues dry out and become less flexible. Migraines may arise due to a lack of liquid compounded with chemical changes within the brain and tissues.

What Causes Dehydration?

Usually dehydration is caused by not drinking enough fluids, especially water. However, some liquids can actually cause dehydration, such as:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Sugary drinks
  • Caffeinated liquids

Hot, humid, windy, or very cold conditions can lead to dehydration as well. Overdressing for the weather can cause you to sweat more, which can result in fluid loss.

Many illnesses cause dehydration. You may become dehydrated if you are ill with a fever; your body attempts to cool itself when you are ill with a fever by increasing the amount of perspiration it produces.


Other causes of dehydration include:

  • Gastrointestinal illnesses
  • Elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics
  • Kidney and hormonal illnesses
  • Eating disorders

Prevent Dehydration While Exercising

Some people experience migraines when they exercise — typically due to dehydration, not the activity. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after engaging in physical activity.

When the weather or environment is hot and humid, your body does not cool itself off as efficiently, resulting in dehydration and headache.

Limit activities when the weather is hot to prevent dehydration. If you are exercising outdoors, do so early or late in the day. If you are prone to getting migraines when you are dehydrated or overheated consider exercises that do not dry you out.

Avoid hot yoga and intense workouts in the middle of the day or in humid settings. Swimming, exercising in a cool gym, or taking a walk may suit you better.

Next page: determine how much liquid you need to avoid the migraine dehydration trigger

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