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Experiencing Migraine Headaches? You could be Dehydrated.

If you’re suffering a migraine, relief can seem an eternity away.   Studies indicate increasing your water intake may help.

Causes of Migraines:

Much about the cause of migraines isn’t understood, although dehydration is believed to have a direct correlation.  According to the Mayo Clinic, genetics and environmental factors seem to both play a role; with mild to moderate dehydration linked to headaches.  Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, a leading researcher in the study of hydration, has also recognized the impact of environmental factors – particularly those leading to dehydration – as playing a major role in the precipitation of migraine headaches.  He believed migraines to be an indicator of critical body temperature regulation at times of “heat stress”.

Hydration Remedy for Migraines:

According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, the most prudent way of dealing with a migraine is its prevention by regularly consuming water.  He suggests that once a migraine breaks the pain barriers, you may be forced to take pain-relieving medications with copious amounts of water.  Sufficient cold or iced water may by itself cool the body (also the brain) from inside and promote closing of the vascular system.  (It’s believed that migraines begin when blood vessels in the brain contract and expand inappropriately, causing the solid walls of the blood vessels to become permeable.)

Similar conclusions were reached in studies set forth in the article, “Really, The Claim:  To Prevent Migraines, Drink More Water”.  Here, the author noted a 2011 study conducted by the journal Neurology that found migraine sufferers who increased their daily intake by six cups a day experienced 21 fewer hours of pain than the placebo group during the two week study period, and also had a decrease in intensity of their headaches.

My Experience:

Personally, I have no doubt that periods of under-hydration have launched me into full blown migraine episodes.  For this article, I tested the impact of cutting my normal water consumption in half for one day.  All was good on the test day, but the following morning I knew before I opened my eyes that a migraine had set in.  Although it had been years since I had experienced a migraine episode, I immediately recognized the aura preceding the attack.  A small, circular high-beam of blinding light appeared, followed by a rotating display of bright, jagged colors.  I immediately took two Tylenol and downed two bottles of ice water.  While this didn’t prevent the pain that came rushing in, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been – with the entire episode ending within a couple hours.

I have known people whose migraine attacks have caused nightmarish pain that has lasted days at a time.  Their feedback on increasing hydration has been very positive in some cases, but not all.  I’m lucky to be one of the fortunate ones who can control the onset of migraines by drinking enough water.

If you experience migraines or headaches, it’s worth a try to see if drinking more water reduces these occurrences.  Get in the habit of drinking water throughout the day.  Have a glass of water in the morning to energize yourself.  Keep a water bottle conveniently located for easy access.  Drink water with your meals.  You can easily check if you’re drinking enough by doing a simple visual urine test.

Let us know your thoughts.  We’d love to hear from you.


Sources of Information:

1.  Mayo Clinic, “Dehydration: Symptoms”

2.  Mayo Clinic, “Migraine: Causes”

3.  Really? The Claim: To Prevent Migraines, Drink More Water

4.  Your Body’s many Cries for Water, Dr. F. Batmanghelidj


Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Permanent link to this article: http://relaj.com/good-hydration/2012/07/experiencing-migraine-headaches-you-could-be-dehydrated/

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