Why Does Dehydration Trigger Migraines? 5 Things to Know

If you are among those lucky ones who have never experienced a migraine, how does it feel to be among God’s favorites?

But for the other half of us mere mortals, migraines are one of those things that negatively impact your quality of life. If you suffer from migraines, it is frustrating not to know what is triggering them. While the exact cause of migraines is not known, environmental and genetic factors play a considerable role in the onset of migraines.


Different people have different triggers that can start a migraine. If you have had migraines long enough, you quickly learn to manage these triggers to an extent. Understanding and researching ways to manage these external triggers can help prevent migraines.

Dehydration is one of the reading triggers which can begin a migraine but is also, luckily, one of the easily manageable ones. This article intends to educate you on this common migraine trigger and how to manage it.

What Is A Migraine?

Before we dive into triggers, let us see what a migraine is. Most people think that migraines are a case of strong headaches. While this is not technically wrong, medically speaking, a migraine is more than just a bad headache.


Migraines are categorized among neurological disorders involving moderate to intense throbbing, pulsating headaches often accompanied by nausea. This is a recurring condition and can cause vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. The triggers, sensitivity, and frequency of onset can all vary among individuals. Headaches associated with migraines have a negative impact on the quality of life of the patient.

Potential migraine triggers include

  • Hormonal changes like menstruation
  • Emotional triggers like stress, depression, anxiety
  • Dietary triggers like caffeine, alcohol, and additives such as MSG, nuts, and cheese.
  • Medication
  • Environmental factors like loud noises, humidity, strong odors, rapid light changes, etc.

In addition to this, other factors like lack of sleep, jet lag, and blood sugar levels can also cause migraines.

Dehydration And Migraine: Things To Know


Nearly one-third of individuals suffering from headaches report dehydration to be a cause for triggering migraines. But the upside is that dehydration as a potential migraine trigger can be managed easily compared to others.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration is the loss of fluids from your body. A person becomes dehydrated when the body loses more water than fluid intake. Maintaining optimum hydration levels is essential to maintain bodily functions, prevent infections, and maintain homeostasis, mood, and cognition.

How Does Dehydration Cause Migraine?

While the exact cause of dehydration migraines is still unclear, there are various hypotheses among scientists.

As your body gets dehydrated, your brain and other tissue structures surrounding it will start to contract. This contraction of the brain will put pressure on the nerves and blood vessels surrounding the brain, causing pulsating headaches.

Signs Of Dehydration

Source: facty.com

Dehydration comes with a whole lot of symptoms of its own. If you feel any of the symptoms listed below, get adequate hydration to avoid a potential migraine episode.

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dark or discolored urine
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Loss of skin elasticity

If you are extremely dehydrated, it can lead to additional symptoms like

  • Sunken eyes
  • Lack of sweating
  • Fever
  • Delirium and confusion
  • Unconsciousness

What Causes Dehydration?

In simple terms, dehydration is caused by an imbalance between fluid intake and output. The cause of dehydration might be that you are not drinking enough water. But there are additional causes for dehydration as well. These include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Medications that cause increased urine output
  • Extreme sweating due to climate or physical exertion
  • High fever

Managing dehydration migraine

Dehydration is one of the relatively easy migraine triggers to manage. There is no known cure for migraines, but it is possible to lead a normal life with some management.


The easiest way to manage migraines is to prevent an episode from happening by avoiding triggers. Dehydration headaches will resolve themselves in a few hours with adequate intake of fluids.

Fluid Intake

It is advisable to take small sips of wats throughout the timeframe to avoid nausea. Drinking too much water in a short amount of time will cause bloating and nausea which is not so pleasant.

You can also try electrolyte-rich water, coconut water, and fruit water to help replenish fluid levels in your body.

If you want to level up your nutrition as well, why not try wellness shots and juices? They will quench your thirst and, at the same time, boost your immune system.

Just keep in mind the sugar content in said electrolyte-rich water and such. But when used in moderation, these are a great way to combat dehydration.


Source: healthline.com

Nothing beats rest to fight a migraine. It is advised to stay in a quiet, dark room without exposure to sunlight or loud noises. Taking a much-needed break from physical activities will also allow the migraine to pass quickly.


If you use any prescribed medication to manage migraine, it is advised to take that. On the other hand, over-the-counter Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to manage dehydration headaches.

Make sure to avoid pain relieving medication that contains caffeine which could possibly exacerbate dehydration even further. If you experience nausea and vomiting, antiemetics can also be used.

Cold Compress

It has been reported by patients that cold compress or ice packs on your head are excellent ways to alleviate dehydration headaches. If you do not have a cold compress handy, a wet washcloth over your forehead will do the trick.

The cold will help soothe the nerves and blood vessels, thereby allowing the migraine to pass.


Source: tonal.com

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of migraine in the general population. It is an easily preventable trigger that can be managed at home with minimal medical intervention.

Always remember to stay hydrated, keep track of your fluid intake and take breaks when needed. You might not be able to cure migraine completely, but making changes in your lifestyle will surely help you to reduce their severity and frequency.

We hope this article has provided you with insight into how dehydration triggers migraines and ways to treat and prevent them in the future.