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Can Dehydration Cause Headaches?


Updated May 16, 2014

It has been my experience that most people suffering with daily headaches have multiple causes, including dehydration. An article in the Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry implies that chronic headaches occur daily, up to 15 days per month.

This same article also lists tension type headaches as the most common primary headache. Normally, I would consider tension type headaches to be stress induced and related to muscle trigger points, dehydration, and cervical joint dysfunction. The cure to such headaches usually involves the following:

  • Drinking water
  • Regular exercise
  • Postural exercises
  • Stretching
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Stressors must be eliminated or dealt with in an effective manner.

Many headache specialists, including chiropractic and osteopathic physicians use the diagnostic term of "Cervicogenic Headaches," which indicates that the cause of the headache is in the neck. Although, dehydration and stress issues may be related to this type of headache, spinal manipulation is normally required to resolve the biomechanical problems in the neck.

Although there are varying opinions, I suggest that adults and children drink 40 ounces of water per 100 pounds of body weight every day. Realize that exercise, ambient temperature, and state of health affect the water needs of your body. I strongly recommend the monograph "Hydration: Fluids for Life" as a resource to determine individual water drinking needs.

Dr. Lehman's Dehydration and Headache Sources:

Sports Nutrition for Young Adults: Hydration

Good Hydration - Hype or a Neglected Area?

Hydration: Fluids for Life

Chronic Daily Headache

Dr. Lehman's clinical experience provides a very interesting example of why drinking plenty of water may be important.

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