Believe it or not, dehydration can be one of the most common causes of a headache. Dehydration is the loss of water and electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride and potassium, which are necessary for the body to function. The main cause of dehydration is not drinking enough water to maintain healthy levels. A variety of unpleasant symptoms occur when this happens, including headaches.
But what exactly does a dehydration headache feel like? A water-deprivation headache may occur at the front or back or just on one side of the head, or it may be felt throughout the entire head. Bending the head down or moving it from side to side often worsens the headache. Simply walking can cause more head pain.
Research is still on-going about precisely how dehydration causes headaches. According to some experts, it’s a by-product of the body’s effort to maintain adequate fluid levels. The blood vessels narrow, reducing the brain’s supply of blood and oxygen. The brain can’t feel pain, so the headache discomfort may result from pain receptors in the lining that surrounds the brain. The loss of electrolytes may also contribute to dehydration headaches.
The easiest way to get rid of a dehydration headache is by drinking water. 16 to 32 ounces of water should do the trick, and patients should start to feel better within one to two hours. For severe dehydration, the person should lie down and drink more fluids. In extreme cases, intravenous rehydration may be necessary. To avoid headaches caused by dehydration try to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout the day to insure that you stay hydrated.
It’s particularly easy to neglect fluid replacement when exercising or engaging in strenuous activity, or when sick with an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. These are times when special precautions should be taken to make sure you replace the fluids you lose.
Besides drinking water, there are many other natural ingredients that can be used to treat a headache.
Take a lavender bath
Moist heat is often prescribed to loosen stiff, achy muscles and relieve tension. Because so many headaches are tension-centered, a bath can bring relief to an achy head, too. When combined with lavender essential oil, you’ve discovered a potentially powerful weapon against your migraines. You can make up your own migraine bath oil as follows. Combine 5 drops of lavender essential oil with an emulsifier such as raw honey or olive oil. You can store this for many months in a cool, dry, dark place. Add about 1 tablespoon to the bath as you fill it. The lavender fragrance will rise up in the steam of the warm water, surrounding you with soothing vapors. Close your eyes and relax.
Check out your diet
Certain foods can act as triggers and as a result may be a main cause of headaches. Common allergens such as gluten, soy, cows dairy, soy and shellfish have been related to migraine headaches. Many processed foods contain tyramine which is compound known as an amine found in many foods, produced from the natural breakdown of the amino acid, tyrasine. Tyramine can cause blood vessels to dilate, and this may be what starts the migraine chain-reaction in some people. Many aged foods also contain tyramine, even leftovers in the refrigerator. Using the Elimination Diet is a good way to find out which foods trigger headaches.
The cold from ice helps reduce inflammation that contributes to headaches. Plus, it has a numbing effect on the pain. If you suffer from a migraine headache try applying an ice pack to the back of your neck. Within a half an hour you should feel relief.
Apples and apple cider vinegar have attributes that can balance the acid and alkaline levels in the body, giving you relief from headaches. Simply eat an apple with a little salt or add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a full glass of water and drink it.
Disturbances in sleep patterns, such as insufficient sleep, too much sleep and jet travel across multiple time zones, can trigger headaches. A study in children and teens found that nondrug strategies to improve sleep habits reduced the frequency of migraines.
Melatonin is a pineal gland hormone that rises at night and regulates many biorhythms, including the sleep-wake cycle. Although the evidence is mixed for using melatonin to treat sleep disturbances, new research demonstrates people with cluster headaches and migraines have low melatonin levels. Preventive melatonin supplementation proved particularly helpful in those with cluster headaches.