Can Dehydration Cause Headaches? Here’s What You Should Know

A man on a green sofa holds his hand to his forehead in pain as he holds a glass of water.


Nearly three-quarters of American adults are classified as chronically dehydrated.

While the most common age group affected by dehydration is the elderly, it can affect anyone at any age, especially those who participate in sports or rigorous exercise regularly or spend a lot of time in excessive heat.

When most people think of dehydration, the most common cause is loss of hydration due to sweating from heat or an intense workout. Still, it has other causes associated with it that have nothing to do with exercise or temperature.

It is essential to stay hydrated daily to avoid your risk of dehydration and its associated symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is moderate to severe headaches.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be dehydrated and are experiencing a severe headache, you may be correct and should visit State Urgent Care for further evaluation and treatment.

Let’s discuss dehydration in further detail, including a common symptom: a dehydration headache.  

First, What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when your body experiences a severe loss of fluid balance.

The lack of fluids in your body halts it from effectively carrying out normal bodily functions like digestion and kidney function.

If fluids are not replenished quickly, you may experience moderate to severe symptoms that can damage your overall health.


While the most common cause of dehydration is simply the lack of consuming enough fluids, other causes include

  • Excessive sweating
  • Medicine side effects
  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Fever

Can Dehydration Cause Headaches?

Yes, headaches are one of the most common symptoms of dehydration, but the tie between the two conditions is still widely unknown.

They are often referred to as “dehydration headaches” and can usually be relieved by consuming water or sports drinks and over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce the ache.

It is important to note that you don’t have to overindulge in water to relieve your headache. In fact, you shouldn’t, as it could lead to nausea or vomiting. Start with slow sips and aim for a glass of water every hour to assess your tolerance.

Most dehydration headaches resolve within 2 to 3 hours of fluid replenishment.

Other Dehydration Symptoms

Outside of a moderate to severe headache, common dehydration symptoms include

  • Lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness

Those with severe dehydration may also experience

  • Low blood pressure
  • Sunken eyes
  • Reduced perspiration
  • Dry, shriveled skin
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever

Dehydration Headache Treatment Options

Most dehydration headaches can be treated at home without medical intervention.

Rehydrating is the best way to treat a case of dehydration. Aim for water or sports drinks to replenish electrolytes and lost fluid.

Other common and effective methods to treat dehydration headaches include

  • Rest
  • A cold compress to the forehead
  • Over-the-counter pain reliever

If your headache does not go away within a few hours or becomes more severe, seek medical care immediately.

Dehydration Care When You Need It Most

If you or a loved one is experiencing severe headaches or other serious symptoms of dehydration, you should visit State Urgent Care for further evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment now.

While rehydrating is enough for some with mild cases, more intensive fluid hydration treatment may be required for those with moderate to severe dehydration.

Urgent care is essential for those with severe dehydration symptoms who

  • Have had diarrhea for 24 hours or longer
  • Are irritable or disoriented
  • Are extremely exhausted
  • Can’t keep fluids down
  • Have bloody or black stool.

Our urgent care facility is open seven days a week with no appointments required. Walk in now to get treated for dehydration.