Can Dehydration Cause Migraines?

Can dehydration cause migraine headaches? | NormaLyte ORS oral rehydration salt electrolyte powder.  Blonde young woman with her face in her hands wearing a heart monitoring watch

Can Dehydration Cause Migraines?

Can dehydration cause migraine headaches? | NormaLyte ORS oral rehydration salt electrolyte powder.  Blonde young woman with her face in her hands wearing a heart monitoring watch

Headaches and/or migraines can take down the strongest person and they can come on suddenly without warning.  Did you know there’s a connection between headaches and dehydration?

Can dehydration cause migraine headaches?

You’re playing the headache game.  Is my headache from stress?  Is my headache from hunger?  Is it from lack of caffeine (or too much)?  The cause of your headache or migraine can be difficult to pinpoint.  

Of the people who suffer from migraine headaches about 1/3 will tell you that dehydration is a migraine trigger.  The American Migraine Foundation says that, “even the slightest hint of dehydration can be the fast track to debilitating head pain”.  While dehydration isn’t something on your mind every day, it can come about quickly and even make an emergency situation.

What do dehydration headaches feel like?

The pain from a dehydration headache can feel differently for everyone.  Sometimes it will feel like a dull ache all over your head.  Others describe it as pain in one spot on your head or in one area (the forehead, behind the eyes, etc).  You could have a throbbing or pounding headache with constant pain.  For some, pain can get worse with movement and the person experiencing it will need to lie down in a dark quiet spot until it passes.  

Can dehydration cause headaches behind the eyes?

Absolutely!  The pain from a headache or migraine caused by dehydration can be felt behind the eyes.  Some also experience it on the back of their head, and others even experience dehydration headaches as an all over dull ache.  Knowing the signs of dehydration can help you be prepared to prevent the migraine headache.

What are the signs of dehydration?

  • Dark urine
  • Lack of appetite
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Rapid breathing

Read our blog on the signs of dehydration here to learn more about this in depth.

What is the connection between headaches or migraines and dehydration?

We briefly mention the known connections of migraines; stress, hunger, weather changes, and drinking alcohol.  Often the answer can be even more simple.  You need a drink.  Dehydration can cause migraine headaches for people who do not normally suffer from headaches.  This is because your body is perfectly balanced.  You need electrolytes (these are minerals that regulate the body's functions) along with fluids in order to keep that perfect balance.

If you find yourself irritable and unable to concentrate you could be dehydrated.  The electrolyte balance in your body may be out of whack, but the good news is that it can be quickly restored through the use of an oral rehydration solution.

What is an oral rehydration solution?

So glad you asked!  The National Cancer Institute has one of the best definitions.  It reads as: 

“An aqueous solution composed of glucose and electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphorus, with dehydration preventative and rehydration activities. Upon oral administration of the oral rehydration solution (ORS), water, electrolytes and glucose are absorbed from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract into the systemic circulation. This replenishes the body's supply of water, carbohydrates and electrolytes, and prevents both dehydration and renal dysfunction.”

That’s nice, but let’s break it down a little more simply.  An oral rehydration solution (sometimes called oral rehydration salt) comes in either a powder to be mixed in water or fluid form and contains minerals and nutrients our bodies need in order to absorb water more effectively in our gut.  

Water alone does not hydrate effectively.  

In fact, you need all those extra minerals for your body to absorb the water.  Most times, just the meals you eat through the day will provide you with enough of those nutrients and minerals.  But in cases where you’re experiencing illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhea, or even chronic illnesses like POTS or other forms of dysautonomia you may need a little extra help.  You may also want to use an oral rehydration salt if you're an endurance athlete, if you sweat excessively, or if you’ve been exposed to high temperatures.

What is NormaLyte?

NormaLyte is an oral rehydration salt meant to be taken orally to prevent and treat dehydration.  It’s safe to be used by children and adults, and it’s been clinically proven to prevent symptoms of POTS (a form of dysautonomia that causes dehydration).

Migraines and POTS

People who have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (or POTS) often experience migraines and headaches.  POTS is a form of dysautonomia that can cause rapid heartbeat, fainting, dizziness, blood pooling, exhaustion, trouble focusing (brain fog), and many more symptoms.  People with this condition are often chronically dehydrated, and the biggest treatment is increased electrolyte consumption.  

People with POTS often suffer from migraine headaches too.  This is because blood will pool in their lower extremities causing blood not to get to the muscles and the brain properly.  The Cleveland Clinic says neck pain is also experienced in POTS patients. 

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines?

If you suffer from headaches or migraines and think that dehydration may be a contributing factor then you may want to consider keeping oral rehydration salt like NormaLyte on hand.  We accept your HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account) through your insurance.  

Dehydration is easy to cure if you’re prepared.