Does Drinking Water Help Headaches?

These days, our lifestyles have become so fast-paced that dehydration can sneak up on us. How many of us can actually remember how much water we drank today?

You might think, I’m not dehydrated at all, I feel fine.

But you have a persistent headache that you just can’t seem to concentrate. Headaches can be due to several reasons. This is why it is essential to properly understand how dehydration affects you and what brings on the headache.

Lucky for you, we have compiled everything that you need to know in the article below! Let’s get ready to learn!

Understanding Dehydration

Dehydration refers to a condition where the amount of fluids you lose is higher than the amount that is replenished. Water is an essential component that regulates all the processes in our bodies. A lack of water can result in many consequences. Following are some of the common signs of dehydration:

  • Bad Breath
  • Dry Skin
  • Food Cravings
  • Headaches

Here we will discuss the different types of headaches and if drinking water helps headaches.

Different Types of Headaches

While we’re understanding dehydration, we can also take a small detour to understand headaches. This way, you can get an understanding of not just headaches caused by dehydration headache but also headaches in general.

Chronic Tension Headaches

This type of headache is a result of high-stress and a lack of proper rest. They can also be brought on by physical, psychological, and emotional problems, depression, and so on.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are typically centered around your eyes. They come in phases of about one to four a day in specific cluster periods (from 15 mins to 3 hours). It can last for many days or months.

Hormonal Headaches

Hormonal headaches are similar to migraines. They generally affect only one side of your head. This type of headache is typically followed by nausea, vomiting, or higher sensitivity to light and sound.

Sinus Headaches

This type of headache is aggravated due to flu, cold, or other medical condition. This type of headache is categorized by pain in and around your face.

What is a Dehydration Headache?

A dehydration headache is caused by the lack of water in your body. When your body does not have a proper balance of fluids, it will result in a lack of essential electrolytes and minerals required for the proper functioning of the body.

To overcome this fluid loss, your brain can shrink temporarily. This is because it does not get an adequate supply of fluids for its functioning. However, it causes the brain to pull away from the skull, which results in dehydration headaches. Additionally, a lower blood volume means less amount of oxygen flow to the brain. This can cause the nerves in your brain to trigger pain.

When the dehydration is only for a short period, the brain returns to its original state once the body has been rehydrated. Dehydration can also be a trigger for people with migraines and set off a migraine attack.

How Long Does a Dehydration Headache Last?

A dehydration headache lasts as long as you are dehydrated. Although, once you start drinking water, your body will still need some time to readjust. This can take anywhere between thirty minutes to about three hours. If the dehydration is severe, plain water may not be enough to replenish the lost electrolytes. In this case, some sports drinks or other electrolyte substitutions can be consumed.

Symptoms of Dehydration Headache

There are simply so many factors that can be responsible for a headache. Lack of proper rest, nutrition, water, or conditions like migraines, fever, and so on are all known to cause you headaches. So, what are the symptoms of a dehydration headache?

A dehydration headache will feel like a dull or throbbing pain. This pain can occur in the front, the back, or cover your entire head. A sinus headache, for example, feels like your head is being pressured along with some pain in your facial region. However, this is less likely if it is a dehydration headache.

Similarly, you shouldn’t typically experience any pain at the back of your neck, as is common with tension headaches. A headache due to migraines is more likely to hurt on one side and also bring on nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

Other Symptoms of Dehydration

If you cannot tell whether or not your headache is related to dehydration, you can look for other symptoms of dehydration. These signs can let you know whether or not you are dehydrated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there is a good chance that your headache could be related to dehydration.

  • Extreme thirst
  • Low or no urination
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Skin loses elasticity
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated heart rate

In more severe dehydration cases, a person might see these extreme symptoms:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Fever
  • No sweating despite a fever
  • Delirium
  • Unconsciousness

How to Get Rid of Dehydration Headache?

The trick to getting rid of a dehydration headache is, of course, to rehydrate yourself. But there are also additional steps you can take. For example, you should try to stay in a cool environment. Doing so will help you prevent losing any more fluids through sweating.

Similarly, consider drinking water rich in electrolytes as they will replenish the lost minerals. For children, Pedialyte might be a good alternative as the electrolytes and carbohydrates can help them absorb water more efficiently.

If dehydration is severe, then there is a chance you won’t be able to keep any fluids down. Another alarming sign is the lack of urination. If you experience any of these symptoms, along with a headache that persists despite rehydration, then you should contact a medical professional immediately.

The best way treatment for a dehydration headache is prevention and rehydration.

Preventing A Dehydration Headache


The following are some of the steps you can take to prevent a dehydration headache:

  • Preventing a dehydration headache does not mean that you should be drinking water all the time. You just need to make sure that you don’t feel thirsty.
  • You also need to check your urine. The color of the urine should be light yellow or clear if you are sufficiently hydrated.
  • Remember to increase your water intake during strenuous activities or sickness.
  • Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables with higher water content in your diet. These can include watermelons, Brussel sprouts, oranges, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, and so on.
  • Remember that water content in food is still not enough to fulfill your requirement, and you are better off drinking water itself.
  • Try to limit the consumption of alcohol and caffeine. These can act as diuretics and will actually cause you to lose more fluids.
  • Try to limit eating foods that are high in refined sugar and saturated fats. This is because your body will need to use more water to flush these out of your system.

Verdict – Does Drinking Water Help Headaches?

A lack of water can cause you to become confused and slow down many of the body’s processes. The essential nutrients are not able to reach their designated locations, which can cause you to suffer many side effects such as sluggishness, slow metabolism, and of course- headaches.

While there is still a long way to go when it comes to understanding dehydration headaches, it is safe to say that drinking water only comes with positive results. Since dehydration could also be triggering migraines, it is difficult to tell if water alone will help cure your headache. A study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice reported that drinking more water was associated with making people feel better.

In case of any severe effects or presence of blood in vomit or stool, you will need to call your doctor. A healthier lifestyle is, no doubt a great way to keep yourself free from all ailments and not just headaches. If your pain persists despite rehydration, please consult a medical professional for a better understanding of underlying health issues.