Treatment, Triggers

Chronic Dehydration as Migraine Trigger

My new headache specialist admonished me for being dehydrated and ordered me to drink more water. Many doctors have reprimanded me for not drinking enough water, as evidenced by my horribly dry lips, dry skin that doesn’t immediately flatten out when pinched, and how long it takes for my nail beds to return to pink when pressed. When I tell them I drink about 100 oz of water a day, they look at me like “yeah, right.” But it’s true. I tracked for a couple weeks recently and the only time my lips softened was when I drank 216 ounces in one day. And I peed constantly.

At my return visit to the headache specialist Thursday, he said that the water must be going right through me. I drink plenty of it (and don’t drink anything dehydrating), but my body doesn’t hold onto it. The treatment is to imbibe drinks enhanced with electrolytes, like Gatorade or an oral rehydration solution. It seems to be helping. My lips are softer, my nail beds recolor more quickly and I pee a lot less. The migraines also haven’t been as bad. (Though I also started a new medication, so I can’t comfortably claim cause and effect.)

Dehydration is a major migraine trigger, but I couldn’t believe it was for be because I drink so much water. It’s exciting to think that chronic dehydration could be contributing the the frequency and severity of my chronic migraines — it’s so easy to fix! Now the question is why my body doesn’t retain water. Back to my primary care provider for tests.

Could you be dehydrated without knowing it? Look into it — there could be an easy way to reduce your migraines. Check dehydration symptoms and think about what you drink. In a busy day, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. If you drink caffeine or alcohol, you need even more water to offset their dehydrating effects. Although I don’t have hard evidence for this, the dry mouth and frequent need to pee during a migraine indicate that migraine episodes themselves cause dehydration.