How to Help a Headache with Just Water

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Header image by: r. nial bradshaw

Headaches plague almost everyone at one time or another, from minor ones to day-ending painful migraines. The most common type of headache is called a ‘tension headache’ and occurs in at least once a year in 1/2 the population of developed countries. Tension headaches are normally caused by stress, lack of sleep, eye strain, dehydration, anxiety and muscle strain due to bad posture or over exertion.

While the normal way to treat a headache is grabbing a couple asprin, a more natural way to fight off a tension headache is with just drinking more water.

Yes, just water does help a headache. Here’s how it works.

In many cases, a tention headache is caused by fatigue. Basically, when your body is fatigued, your eyes strain more, your muscles tighen, and you feel overall worn out. One of the major causes of fatigue is lack of hydration, since your body goes into ‘standby mode’ when it doesn’t get enough water. Keeping hydrated can help prevent this, and drinking a full glass of water can also alleviate the headache when it starts.

The other main cause of headaches is muscle strain, which can be a result of physical activity, bad posture, or stress. In this case, increasing hydration is known to loosen muscles due to properly hydrating the muscle cells, and can aleviate tightness. So after a hard cardio workout, or a night of bad sleep positions, drinking more water will help loosen the muscles causing the headache.

Finally, a 2005 study by the Department of General Practice of the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, titled “A randomized trial on the effects of regular water intake in patients with recurrent headaches” studied 100 people that had chronic headaches, and concluded that drinking more water (about a liter per day over your normal water intake) is a natural solution to chronic headaches, with 47% of the group showing improvement in relief of frequent headaches.
Caffeine on the other hand has a sort of boomerang effect with headaches. Many people feel that drinks with caffeine, like soda or coffee, help take away the headache, but since caffeine tends to dehydrate you, it is only a temporary aid, and can actually do more damage than good.

Preventive Methods

So the ovbious way to fight a headache is to not get it in the first place. Here are 4 ways to keep headaches out of your life:

  1. Keep Properly Hydrated!
    If you stay hydrated, you can help prevent tention headaches. Sipping water throughout the day, and making sure you get the Proper Amount of Water Each Day, will keep your muscles relaxed, keep your brain hydrated and overall reduce the stress on your body. If you get chronic headaches (more than 5 per month, minus hangover-induced headaches), try increasing your daily water intake for 3 months and see the difference!
  2. Stretch Often.
    Tension headaches caused by stiff muscles can be fixed by stretching often. Stretching is known to remove toxins from your muscles, and in combination with staying hydrated, those toxins will leave your body. Stretching will keep your muscles relaxed, so try to stretch after long periods of inactivity, like sitting at a desk.
  3. Re-hydrated After Drinking Alcohol.
    The hangover headache is your body’s way of telling you that it is really dehydrated. Waking up after a night out with friends with a pounding headache is no way to start the day. The best way to fight off a hangover headache is to make sure you drink water the night before. You can match drink for drink, water and alcohol, or if you can’t do that, try drinking a large glass just before bed, to help keep you more hydrated and clear toxins out of your system for the morning. A large glass of water in the morning will also make your day go better.
  4. Reduce Daily Stress.
    Stress causes a number of significant health-related problems, headaches being one of them. Stress can cause you to continually tighten mucles, and causes sleeplessness, both of which are triggers for headaches. Removing stress from your life can lead to a better quality of life. If the source of stress cannot be removed (ie: without quitting your job), then try to do things to relax at intervals throughout your stressful environment. For example, take short walks to get fresh air during the workday, start meditating in the mornings, add color or more light to your office, etc. Even minor changes can decrease your stress levels and give you less headaches. If you’re working at a desk all day, an easy way to help destress your body is a wooden foot massage roller. Its discrete, and really helps!

So what are your headache-relieving methods? What do you do to prevent them? Let us know in the comments!!

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