Migraines and (de)hydration
February 12, 2007 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Migraines, hydration and pee — oh my!

I seem to be one of those people whose migraine symptoms include polyuria — that's "pissing a lot" to you. If I'm in the middle of a headache, or recovering from one, I can be thirsty and dry-mouthed and still peeing clear. I drink water and it just comes right back out. Outside of headaches, on the other hand, I seem to have no problem retaining water.

Annoyingly, dehydration is also a major migraine trigger for me. I tend to get headaches in cycles: after one I can't get myself rehydrated fast enough to ward off the next, but when I finally do get out of the cycle I'll be headache-free for weeks.

Any other migraneurs out there with these symptoms? Any suggestions for dealing with 'em?

(FWIW, I've tried upping my salt intake, and it sometimes helps a little, but sometimes it doesn't at all; it certainly doesn't seem to be a capital-S-Solution to the problem. Ditto drinking Gatorade and other electrolyte drinks — sometimes helpful, just as often unhelpful.)
posted by nebulawindphone to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You sure you don't just have diabetes? I can't count how many patients I've had whose headaches provided a cheap and reliable blood sugar measurement. Hyperglycemia is a common cause of headaches.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:02 PM on February 12, 2007

Response by poster: So let me ask you, ikkyu2 — if these headaches were from hyperglycemia, would I get them more when I was hungry or when I was well-fed? Undereating seems to be the other big trigger for 'em, and that seems backwards from what I'd expect if blood sugar were the issue, but what do I know?

(Yes, I'll ask about diabetes the next time I see a doctor. In the meantime I'm just curious, and wondering how concerned I need to be.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:13 PM on February 12, 2007

If you can convince the doc that it might be blood sugar related, he might write you a scrip for a blood sugar monitor, and then you could check it when you feel like you're starting a headache.
Hyper generally means much or more, so you'd expect to see it after you'd eaten.
ikkuyu2 should be back shortly for more details. He's a doctor; IANAD.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 8:55 PM on February 12, 2007

The thread has gone over my comfort line. I won't be adding to it.

For personalized advice on health issues, see a doctor, of course.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:55 AM on February 13, 2007

IANAD, however, I do get migraines. I have also noticed that I have to go quite a bit during an attack (and my blood sugar is fine). I have always attributed this to my migraine medication, because the problem doesn't seem to start until after I have started to take the meds.

I have never been able to "solve" the problem, other than to make sure that I remain well hydrated when this happens.
posted by Flakypastry at 6:40 AM on February 13, 2007

Mrs. RikiTikiTavi gets migraines when she's gone on too long between meals, or her last meal was too much carbs/too little protein, or she eats food that is too high in sodium. We have not noticed a hydration link, but it's an interesting idea. I wonder if your problem is more of a sodium imbalance one than a dehydration one?

I would think that this is hypoglycemia, but I'm not a doctor. People ask non-doctors for help because sometimes they don't get answers otherwise. The first doctor didn't help (but did give an electrical impulse sort of therapy once that helped immensely--not practical for a long term though). The second doctor basically brushed off the issue and didn't offer any help. The third doctor gave a prescription which helps sometimes (imitrex), but retired, and the fourth doctor at least listened, but didn't offer anything new. Seems clearly blood sugar related, but nobody's isolated that yet.

So, in the absence of other options, we'll ask other people. People would be happy to ask a doctor, but they often don't help. It also doesn't help that doctors don't respond via web/email typically. An exam can't be done this way but a consult/history certainly could.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:50 AM on February 13, 2007

I can totally relate to the hydration thing. I went on for years without connecting the two until my wife picked up on the fact that she could absolutely predict when I was going to get a migraine just by how many times she saw me drink a glass of water throughout the course of a day.

For the past couple of years, I've been exceptionally careful to be sure there is always a glass or bottle of water by my side -- if it's near me, I'll drink it. Since then, I can count on one hand the number of migraines I've had.

Salt, by the way, is as much a trigger for me as dehydration. Avoiding excessive salt has also been part of my life for a while now. I just stick to plain ol' H2O.
posted by jknecht at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2007

I have diabetes and suffer from migraines. I'll get a migraine with low blood sugar or not enough hydration, but not with high blood sugar. I usually have something to eat, something to drink (at least 16 ounces), take some Excedrin Migraine and have a nap. I'm usually right as rain about two/three hours later.

As for drinking more, make a schedule if that's necessary. I'm bad, or was bad, about drinking water. I've made a conscious effort to consume at least 8 ounces of water every time I go to the bathroom. It's worked well and I drink the recommended 64 ounces of water per day, plus way too much generic diet Coke.
posted by deborah at 5:22 PM on February 13, 2007

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