I had walked two miles in the scorching summer heat. My shirt and underwear were soaked in sweat. The atmospheric temperature was 40 degrees Celsius. I had a very painful headache for about an hour, and I was thirsty, too.
As soon as I arrived home, I took a one litre bottle of cold water and drank. A minute after drinking the water, the headache disappeared. “Has the water cured the headache?” I asked myself.
The fact is I did not know the type of headache I had. There are many factors that could have contributed to or caused the disappearance of the headache. It could be because I stopped walking and rested. Maybe it is because I was no longer exposed to the sun and the heat. It could be water that treated it. Maybe my home arrival made my brain stop being stressed, anxious and worried about getting home, thereby making the headache disappear.
All this made me search in textbooks, scientific journals, and on the internet about the type of headache I was suffering from and the health benefits of drinking water. When doing all this, the main question in my head was: Does water cure headaches?
A headache is a pain in the head or upper neck of the body. There are so many types of headaches and they include episodic primary tension headaches; chronic primary tension headaches; primary muscle contraction headaches; primary migraine headaches with aura; primary migraine headaches without aura; primary cluster headaches; primary paroxysmal hemicrania; primary cough headache; primary stabbing headache; primary thunderclap headache; headaches that awaken you from sleep; headaches that continue on one side only, left or right; headaches from exertion; and secondary headaches due to trauma, infection, dehydration, alcohol, teeth, ear, or eye problems.
My headache was caused by dehydration. I had not drunk water or any other fluid before the journey, and neither had I eaten any food. Furthermore, on my way home I felt thirsty, had a dry and sticky mouth, and when I peed the urine was dark yellow. In addition to this, I also had nausea, a visual aura, and dry skin. All these are signs of dehydration.
However, the question remained unanswered. Does water cure headaches? Now that I knew the type of headache I was suffering from, I started looking for scientific evidence about whether water can treat headaches or not. I searched for the evidence-based health benefits of drinking water in well-renowned peer-reviewed science journals and below is the scientific evidence I got.
Many studies suggest that increased water drinking can cure headaches. To investigate the effect of increased water intake on headache, Mark Spigt and colleagues, 2012, performed a randomized controlled trial in primary care with two groups and a follow-up period of three months. They found out that drinking more water reduced the number of headache episodes per month in patients with recurrent headaches. They concluded that headache patients should try to increase their water intake for a short period of time to see if this can cause an improvement in their lives.
Joseph N Blau, 2008, conducted a survey in which patients with recurrent migraines were asked whether dehydration or insufficient fluid intake provoked their migraine attacks. The researchers found out that more than a third of the migraineurs said that dehydration could trigger their migraine attacks. However, they concluded that more work needs to be done to investigate if water deprivation and/or dehydration provoke migraine attacks and whether water intake cures headaches.
Joseph Norman Blau and colleagues, 2004, investigated water deprivation headaches after two medical students had headaches over the previous years seven when deprived of water. They concluded that water deprivation may cause migraines. Furthermore, they encouraged researchers to do more studies on this subject and include serum osmolality measurements in their investigations.
Side effects of drinking too much water:
Drinking too much water can cause some medical problems. Overhydration can cause water intoxication whereby the salts and electrolytes in your body become too diluted leading to conditions like hyponatremia (a condition in which serum levels of sodium become dangerously low). Overhydration can be caused by increased water intake or water retention whereby the body can not get rid of water properly. The water retention problem is caused by various diseases including congestive heart failure, liver disease, kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Although many studies suggest that dehydration can cause headaches, and water intake can cure migraines, more work needs to be done on this topic. The studies should include large numbers of people and many laboratory tests such as serum and urine osmolality. They should also include patients suffering from different types of migraines to find out which type of headaches are triggered by water deprivation and which ones are cured by increased water intake.
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