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There are several ways that dehydration can trigger all types head pain — including migraines, tension headaches, hangover headaches and even heat-related headaches. The change in hydration status of the body could impact intracranial pressure or cause electrolyte abnormalities, says Dr. Feoktistov. “In addition to the headaches, if those changes are severe, dehydration could also produce confusion, disorientation, significant sedation and even coma in some patients,” he explains.
What to do: It’s not always just a matter of drinking more water (although that’s a probably a good idea!). Some preexisting conditions or medications (such as diuretics taken for high blood pressure) can up your risk of becoming dehydrated, so talk to your doctor if you think this could apply to you.
While some medicines (like diuretics that cause dehydration or sleep aids that don’t allow for deep, restorative sleep) might put you at risk for a morning headache, the biggest culprits are the painkillers that are used to treat headaches in the first place. Traditionally, doctors have referred to these so-called rebound headaches as “medication-overuse headaches,” but Dr. Parikh says they are beginning to use the term “medication-adaptation headaches” to take the blame off people who are in pain and need the medicine.
What to do: “If your headache frequency is pretty high, you might need to take medicines pretty often — more than a couple of times a week — to stop the headaches,” says Dr. Berk. (It could be a prescription med, an over-the-counter painkiller or even caffeine.) “Oftentimes you’ll experience those rebound headaches in the morning and the reason why is because your body is craving that medicine and it’s been hours or maybe longer since you’ve had it,” Dr. Berk explains. If this happens, ask your doctor if you can start a preventive treatment to keep the headaches from happening. “You may still need a medicine to treat the pain acutely every so often, but the goal is to make it much less frequent so that way you don’t have this rebounding,” says Dr. Berk.