Dehydration Headache: Symptoms, Remedies, And Prevention

What Is Dehydration?

If there’s one thing you need to remain healthy and fit, it’s water. It forms the basis of the proper functioning of your body. However, when your body gets low water intake due to some health issues, heat, overexposure to the sun, or increased physical activity, it can take a toll and cause dehydration.

Essentially, inadequate levels of fluid and electrolytes within your body leads to dehydration. If you find yourself feeling tired, dizzy, or irritable, and your day gets marked with headaches and dry mouth, you might suffer from dehydration. As you know, constant pounding in the head, coupled with fatigue, can turn your day upside down. But, did you know that dehydration plays a role in headaches? Yes, dehydration can trigger headaches.

Today, you will learn more about these headaches and how dehydration leads to a migraine. You will also get to know about its symptoms, what you can do to prevent them, and some remedies in case of recurrence.

What Is A Dehydration Headache?

When your body receives an inadequate amount of water or fluids, it can cause dehydration, and when this dehydration leads to throbbing pain in your head, it is called a dehydration headache.

You can feel dehydrated due to a combination of factors, thus eventually causing migraines or constant pain across your forehead. While dehydration headaches do not feature in the medical library, they get clubbed under primary headaches – ones that you can reverse or eradicate by changing up a few things in your daily routine.

You should know that water deprivation caused headaches are only one part of the problem. Water deficiency can add to your list of health issues, not permitting your body to function the way it ideally should.

Having Constant Dehydration Headache?

If you live in hot climates or higher altitudes and have underlying health issues, you need constant hydration. Dehydration headaches, although similar to common headaches, need addressing of two aspects – dehydration and pain. Moreover, if you have a higher risk of dehydration, it can pose a challenge.

Therefore, if you find yourself feeling thirsty with a dry, sticky mouth and have muscle cramps, you most likely are dehydrated. And, if it results in frequent headaches, check with your doctor on how to get rid of those. Because when you have severe dehydration, it can go beyond headaches and result in brain damage as well. So, seek help at the right time and make sure you relay all your symptoms and the medications you take to them.

How Are Headaches And Dehydration Related?

As you know, your body relies on water to perform its most critical functions. So, when that gets taken away from your body, it reacts (not in a positive way). Water deprivation leads to several problems, with headaches being an indicator that your body needs fluids to sustain.

Headaches happen to be a symptom of mild to moderate dehydration. Migraine and other types of headaches can get triggered by dehydration. So, when you experience a headache and seek help from your doctor, they need to consider whether dehydration played a role in its cause.

What Causes Dehydration Headache?

Dehydration isn’t always the result of you not drinking enough water. Sometimes, your body tends to lose more water than it retains, thus causing dehydration. If you fail to replenish the fluids you lose, it can give rise to headaches and other health problems. When it comes to dehydration alone, you can attribute it to both prescription and OTC medications other than external conditions.

You will find severe dehydration to be more common in children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, and those who do not have access to safe drinking water. Other factors that can disrupt the regular functioning of your body and cause dehydration headaches include:

1. Diarrhea
In this case, there’s an excess loss of water and bodily fluids. It can happen due to digestive inconsistencies and the inability of your body for water retention.

2. Vomiting
Due to acidity, food poisoning, or other such factors, you tend to cough out or vomit the foreign objects that have obstructed your body. However, you also lose water, which could cause dehydration if you do not hydrate yourself immediately.

3. Excessive Sweating
Whether you’re exercising or out and about in extreme conditions, it can cause perspiration. However, when it’s in excess, it can lead to dehydration and eventually headaches.

4. Fever
When your body temperature rises, your body tends to reject all foreign substances, making you feel weak and dehydrated.

5. Excess Urination
If water retention in your body is less than it should be and you urinate more often than you should, it is your body’s way of telling you that you need do something about it. If you do not take the necessary action on time, you might suffer from severe dehydration.

The causes of dehydration and subsequent headaches are plenty, thus deeming it essential to keep yourself hydrated all the time.

Dehydration Headache Symptoms

While some of you may have similar symptoms of dehydration headaches, others might come across something completely different. It could seem similar to a hangover headache, where the pulsation is felt on both sides of the head and can aggravate due to intense physical activity.

Dehydration triggered migraines can include symptoms like:

  • Severe pain on one side of your head
  • Nausea
  • Light and sound sensitivity

If you have a dehydration headache, you might experience other symptoms that include:

  • Increased thirst
  • A dry mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Dizziness (especially after standing up)
  • Dark yellow-colored urine or decreased urination
  • Irritability
  • Loss of elasticity in the skin

Essentially, pinpointing the location of your headache pain can offer clues into whether you have a dehydration headache or something similar, and get treatment accordingly.

Dehydration Headache Treatment

The best approach for dehydration headache treatment includes addressing both dehydration and the pain caused after. If you want relief from headache caused due to water deprivation, you need to:

A. Increase your fluid intake
Drink plenty of water and electrolyte fluids to keep your body hydrated at all times.

B. Balance electrolytes with sports drinks
Although these drinks cannot replace water, you can have them in moderation in case of extreme dehydration. Avoid excessive intake of sports drinks as they have a high amount of sugar and salts.

C. Decrease physical activity temporarily
If you’re an avid sportsperson or love to keep yourself fit, you need to take a breather in case of dehydration to avoid sweating. Pause your intense workout sessions to steer clear of severe dehydration and subsequent headaches.

D. Avoid the heat and harmful sunrays
If avertable, do not step out during the peak hours of the day to avoid heat and direct rays of the sun. It can cause extreme dehydration and can lead to a pounding headache.

Dehydration Headache Prevention

If you want to prevent a dehydration headache, you need to begin by avoiding dehydration in the first place. The only solution to dehydration headaches is to keep yourself hydrated at all times of the day and night. You can adopt the following preventive measures to avoid water deprivation:

1. Drink at least 4-6 glasses of water every day.

2. Eat water-rich foods such as cucumbers, watermelons, and other fruits and vegetables.

3. Spread out your fluid intake throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.

4. During an intense workout, keep drinking water to replenish the fluids lost through sweat.

5. If you have a fever or an infection, your body tends to lose more fluid than usual. So, address any underlying health issues and increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration.

6. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they cause excessive urination, increasing the risk of dehydration.

7. Avoid strenuous activity in the heat or when unwell, as both can increase your body’s need for fluids.

These preventive measures should help you evade dehydration headaches. However, if you continue to experience them, consult your doctor to rule out any other causes.

Dehydration Headache Remedies

The perfect remedy for dehydration headaches is to increase fluid intake. However, you can also try the following three methods to not deal with throbbing pain for a long time.

1. Take electrolyte drinks – Sugar-free electrolyte drinks can do the trick and give your body the much-needed boost in energy and fluids.

2. Take OTC medications for temporary pain relief – Aspirin or ibuprofen can help if water intake doesn’t. However, before you take any OTC medications, check with your doctor.

3. Use a cold compress – Keep a gel ice pack in your refrigerator. When it comes to headaches, this method can provide temporary relief. Make sure you lie in a dark or dimly lit room for further comfort. You can also use a washcloth dipped in water and frozen as a cold compress.

Dehydration Headache FAQS

While some of you might have heard of dehydration headaches, there must be some who still have questions around the topic. Here, you will get answers to some frequently asked questions around headaches caused due to dehydration.

Q1. Can dehydration cause headaches?
Yes, lack of fluids in your body can cause dizziness and headaches. You will feel a throbbing sensation on your forehead or at the back of your head when you experience dehydration. If you do not remedy the situation on time, it can lead to severe dehydration and brain damage (in extreme cases).

Q2. What to do for dehydration headache?
If you experience a dehydration headache, you first need to make sure that you get yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. In a matter of a few minutes to a couple of hours, you will find the headache to vanish, and you will feel better. In case you stay outdoors during the peak hours of the day, avoid it to stay away from heat and sweating.

Q3. What a dehydration headache feels like?
While some of you might have similar symptoms wherein only one side of your head hurts, others could experience different symptoms. Either way, you will feel a throbbing pain in your forehead or at the back of your head, which you can remedy by drinking water and balancing electrolytes.

Q4. How long does a dehydration headache last?
It depends on how quickly you act in the situation. If you experience a dehydration headache, the fastest solution is to drink plenty of water and electrolyte-containing fluids. For temporary pain relief, you can take OTC medications but consulting your doctor beforehand is a must.

Q5. How do you get rid of dehydration fast?
Firstly, drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Secondly, you can opt for a diet filled with water-rich foods like cucumber, watermelon, etc. Lastly, you can drink sugar-free sports drinks to balance your electrolyte levels and use a cold compress in case of extreme pain.

When To See A Doctor For Dehydration Headache?

If you experience more than the occasional dehydration headache, you should consult your doctor to rule out any other underlying causes. If you choose to use OTC medications for temporary pain relief, you should consult the doctor beforehand to avoid any complications.

More often than not, you will find relief as soon as you increase your fluid intake. But if the frequency of these headaches escalates, seek medical help immediately.


You can classify dehydration headaches under primary headaches as the symptoms are similar. However, the distinguishing factor is the lack of fluids in your body. Therefore, to avoid any recurrences or prevent such types of headaches altogether, you need to keep yourself hydrated at all times.

Make sure you seek help in case of health issues like fevers or infections to prevent dehydration. It isn’t a pretty sight if you overlook the problem, and it catapults into an aggravated one. So, before it turns into a migraine or any other type of headache, feed your body with lots of water, electrolyte drinks, and water-based foods. Dehydration headaches are preventable, and you can avoid them by following a healthy diet and quenching your thirst with water every time.

How Aims Healthcare Can Help!

If your dehydration headache seems curable at home, you should let that happen. However, if you think the problem persists, you can reach out to Aims Healthcare’s Doctor-on-Call service at home in Dubai. Whether it’s you need an urgent care or you need a routine checkup, you can call us   any time of the day, 365 days a year, and round-the-clock. The qualified doctors and practitioners  will make sure you get the best possible treatment in the comfort of your home or office. If you wish to opt for personalized medical care, comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and after-care therapy exclusively at your doorstep – Call Us +971 505 136 505.

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