The month of July has been dedicated to helping headache sufferers reduce their pain. While proper hydration is a major factor in headache pain year round, it’s especially key in the heat of summertime! Dehydration is not caused solely by insufficient water intake, but also by an imbalance of water and electrolytes. Even mild dehydration can lead to pretty big headache pain!

The obvious first step to preventing dehydration headaches is to drink plenty of clean, filtered water. On a day when you’re just sitting at your desk, not sweating, you need to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water. If you’re active or sweating for any reason, increase that amount! Remember, when it comes to water, you can either get a filter or be a filter. While we’ve come light years from water that was at best questionably potable, it’s difficult to keep up with the staggering volume of chemicals being added to our environment each year. While municipal water systems do an admirable job of getting dangerous bacteria and parasites out of tap water, things like chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, prescription drugs, and components to illicit drugs are among the many things that still show up in dangerous quantities in the water coming from our taps. Curious about what’s in your local water? You can enter your ZIP code into this database, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, to see the most recent reports available.

Water alone, will not result in good hydration. The water must be accompanied by the appropriate levels of electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals with an electric charge, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The balance of these minerals is what allows the body to regulate the functions of muscles and nerves, as well as deliver hydration straight to your cells. Electrolyte imbalance or a lack of electrolytes can lead to dehydration. There are some great electrolyte products available these days,but do avoid anything containing shady ingredients like sugar and unpronounceable ingredients (GatorAid is not a good choice here!)  A good salt, such as pink Himalayan sea salt, will actually go a long way toward improving your electrolyte balance. Avoid common table salt, which contains only sodium chloride, and processed and fast foods. If you’re unsure what will work best for you, come get a Nutrition Response Testing check-up!

How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? Common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Faster than normal heart rate
  • Brain fog

While the above can be symptoms of many issues, it makes sense to begin with simple hydration to handle them. Remember, once you’re thirsty, you’re a solid 70% dehydrated already, so drink up!