Dehydration Headache or Chronic Migraine?

Dehydration Headache or Chronic Migraine?

Now that summer is officially upon us, it’s imperative patients at Southwest Spine and Pain Center prepare themselves for this season’s high temperatures. Why? Simple. People exposed to extreme heat are increasingly susceptible to heat-related health problems such as sunburn, dehydration, muscle cramps, heat rash, and heat stroke. These ailments can exacerbate your pain or cause new pain symptoms to arise. If you plan to be outside for long periods of time, consider the following:

  • Drink plenty of water. We’re talkin’ a gallon each day!
  • Apply and then re-apply SPF 30 or higher every 2 hours
  • Wear light-colored, moisture-wicking, breathable clothes
  • Take frequent breaks where you find shade or go inside
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion (dizziness, nausea, etc.)

Even if you stay inside most of the summer, avoiding heat-related health problems can be a challenge. That’s when it becomes even more important to stay hydrated and in-tune with your pain symptoms. If you already suffer from chronic migraines, chronic dehydration from the summer heat could contribute to the frequency and severity of your pre-existing condition.

So, is it a chronic migraine or a dehydration headache causing your pain? Well, it could be both. Nevertheless, there are ways you can identify a dehydration headache over your typical migraine. Dehydration is defined as the loss of water and essential electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. These chemical elements are necessary to help your body function properly and efficiently.

If you develop a headache that differs from your chronic migraine, it is possible you are dehydrated. Some of the symptoms of a dehydration headache include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Parched lips
  • Dizziness
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle cramps

In addition to these symptoms, you may also notice a decrease in urine output. Or, your urine will be darker in color, taking on an amber hue. If your dehydration has become even more severe, you may suffer from low blood pressure, swelling of the tongue, and unconsciousness. It’s important you start drinking water immediately if these symptoms arise, because water-deprivation can have life-threatening consequences. Try not to drink too much too quickly – start with three to four cups, wait a few minutes, then start drinking water again. Avoid exercise and extreme heat for a few days after your dehydration headache.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your headaches, talk to your Southwest Spine and Pain Center physician today!

If chronic pain is keeping you from doing the things you want, it's time to schedule an appointment at Southwest Spine and Pain Center. With multiple locations across the state of Utah, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are dedicated to helping those who suffer from chronic pain live the life they want to. To schedule an appointment, click here!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician's advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.