Dehydration can be a major issue in and of itself. But when life gets busy or changes pace on holiday for example, it can be all too easy to overlook this important potential migraine trigger.
Causes of dehydration
We all remember basic school biology lessons. The human body is 65% water. Dehydration occurs when we lose more fluid than we take in. Fluid is lost through sweat, tears, vomiting, urine or diarrhoea. The body also loses valuable electrolytes.
The severity of dehydration can often depend on a number of factors, such as climate, level of physical activity and diet.
It sounds like a simple formula but many of us think that if we’re not feeling thirsty, or the temperature isn’t soaring then we don’t need to drink.
So what does dehydration do to the body and how can we prevent it happening?
Depending on how much of your body weight is lost through fluids, dehydration can be described as mild, moderate or severe.
Mild to moderate dehydration:
The first sign of dehydration is thirst. Other symptoms may include:
- dizziness or light-headedness
- headache or for those of us with a tendency to migraine, an attack
- dry mouth, lips and eyes
- concentrated urine (dark yellow)
- passing only small amounts of urine infrequently (less than three or four times a day)
Moderate dehydration causes you to lose strength and stamina. It’s the primary cause of heat exhaustion. You should be able to reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, without medical attention.
Migraine prevention – how much water should we drink?
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that if you live in the UK (or somewhere with a similar climate), you should drink six to eight glasses of fluid every day. The FSA also recommends semi-skimmed milk, diluted fruit juice and diluted squash.
A good general recommendation is to drink enough fluid so that you’re not thirsty for long periods of time, and to steadily increase your intake during exercise or hot weather.
There is such a thing as drinking too much water so be mindful of maintaining a steady moderate intake. Drinking more fluid than your body can process can lead to a low amount of sodium in the blood. This is a serious and potentially fatal condition. You shouldn’t drink so much that you feel discomfort and bloating.
So the best course of action seems to be to keep our fluids topped up so as to avoid the possibility of dehydration triggering a migraine and disrupting your day.