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Dehydration – Signs, Symptoms and Prevention

A vast majority of people are chronically dehydrated as they opt for more flavorful drink alternatives.  Unknowingly they become more dehydrated by drinking alcohol, sugary beverages, and caffeinated drinks in place of water which can lead to long term health conditions over time.   Many of these non-water drinks act like diuretics and cause the body to expel water it needs to rid itself of  cellular waste products and harmful inflammatory by-products, further compounding health issues.  Proper hydration is essential for your body to function properly and protect itself.

Dehydration happens when a person loses more fluid than they take in, either through natural processes like sweating and urination, when you have a fever or after a vomiting or diarrhea bout. Dehydration is more likely to occur when the weather is warm or during periods of profuse sweating, like during exercise. Drinking water frequently is key, whether you are working out at the gym, sitting on the couch or at the office,  water helps the body compensate for the liquids that are constantly being lost throughout the day.

Dehydration is much more than just not drinking enough water.   You probably know that drinking water is essential for surviving, but have you ever wondered why? Water is all around us and  inside of us. Scientists know that water, which covers 71 percent of the planet, is one of the things that makes living on earth possible. And living organisms not only depend on water, but most of them are also made of it too.

Around 60 percent of the adult human body is water (water makes up 75 percent of a newborn’s body weight!), and many of our organs, including the heart, the brain, and the lungs, are composed of 70 to 85 percent water. Even seemingly hard and dry bones have massive amounts of water in them; 31 percent, to be exact. Water also makes up a large percentage of blood which brings oxygen and nutrients to our cells and supports vital bodily processes such as our immune system throughout the body.  Without water, the blood becomes thicker, cells shrink, and blood pressure rises to make up for the lack of liquids.

Lymphatic fluids, part of our immune system, make up four times the volume of blood and are designed to remove waste products from our body.  Our essential bodily systems need a continuous supply of water or they can become impaired.  Dehydration also leads to inflammation throughout the body which can cause many health issues such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, asthma, obesity, pain disorders, arthritis, depression and even cancer to name a few.  All of these conditions can be linked to a chronic state of dehydration as well.

Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

It’s normal to lose water by sweating, urinating, and even breathing. But replacing those liquids can be quickly achieved by drinking plenty of water and eating foods with high water content (like fruits and vegetables). But when you don’t drink enough water, you may start experiencing symptoms of mild dehydration. Mild dehydration is not immediately life-threatening and can be solved by drinking more fluids. However, severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency that can cause serious brain, kidney, and heart damage if not treated in time.

These are some signs and symptoms of mild and severe dehydration:


· Thirst and hunger

· Dark yellow/amber urine

· Dry mouth

· Dry skin

· Muscle cramps

· Dizziness

· Fatigue

· Cold hands

· Headache


· Flaky skin

· Rapid heartbeat/weak pulse

· Brain fog/disorientation

· Seizures

· Fainting

· Rapid breathing

· Sunken eyes


Can Dehydration Trigger a Migraine?

Many migraineurs find themselves particularly susceptible to migraines when summer rolls in. High temperatures, humidity, and barometric pressure changes are all known migraine triggers. But dehydration, which is extremely common during the summertime, is an often-overlooked trigger that can be easily avoided.

There is significant clinical and anecdotal evidence of dehydration as a migraine trigger. However, few research studies have been conducted to confirm or deny the claim. One research study published by the medical journal Neurology analyzed data from 7,054 patients who had been admitted to the emergency department with a headache. Their results showed that the risk of getting a migraine increases almost eight percent for every nine-degree rise in temperature. The researchers didn’t name dehydration as a trigger, but it is a well-known fact that hot temperature frequently leads to it.

Another study published by the European Journal of Neurology randomly assigned migraine patients to two groups. The first group was asked to drink 1.5 liters of water (around six cups) a day for two weeks, and the second group was given a placebo medicine. Results suggested that, on average, the group that drank more water experienced 21 fewer hours of headaches than the placebo group during the study.

How to Prevent Dehydration

Fortunately, dehydration is easy to prevent and treat. Most guidelines recommend healthy adults to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day (aka the “8×8 rule”), which adds up to half a gallon or two liters of water daily. The 8×8 rule is a good starting point because it is easy to remember, but the fact of the matter is that the amount of water your body needs depends on many factors, including your age, degree of physical activity, the weather, season, and more.

One of the best ways to find out how much water you need is to experiment for a couple of days with your water intake. If you work out a lot or have a physically demanding job, you will most likely need more than 8 glasses of water.

On the other hand, if you are not as active or spend lots of time indoors, two liters might be more than enough. A good rule of thumb is never to wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Thirst is one of the early signs of dehydration, so while you are not likely to be severely dehydrated the minute you feel a little thirsty, it’s always best to sip a little water throughout the day.

Because staying hydrated is not easy for everybody, here are some practical tips that might help:

· Get a few water bottles and leave them where you spend the most time – at home, at the office, in your gym bag. Having a water bottle with you will help you remember that you need to drink water, save money, and cut down on single-use plastics.

· Add flavor to your water. If you don’t enjoy the taste – or lack thereof – of water, add a few fruits or veggie slices to the glass or pitcher. Lemon, cucumber, strawberries, ginger, blueberries and raspberries are all tasty additions packed with healthy vitamins and minerals.

· Use an app to track your progress. Logging your water intake into an app makes drinking water a little more exciting and will help you get a sense of how much water you are really drinking.

· Drink a full glass of water before each meal and after every bathroom break.

· Eat more fruits with high water content: lettuce, cucumber, celery, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cabbage are all more than 90 percent water.

For good health and longevity, make water a big part of your daily routine.

Migraines – Scents & Sensitivity

Even with so many advances in medicine and technology, trigger diaries are still one of the first things doctors recommend after a migraine diagnosis. That is in part because migraines aren’t fully understood yet, so biological markers aren’t a reliable measurement. The other reason is that learning to recognize migraine triggers has been proven to improve patient-physician communication regarding treatment options and outcomes.

Everyone has different triggers, but experts believe that some common offenders affect migraineurs more than others. For example, women are significantly more likely to experience migraines than men, and researchers believe that female hormones might be partly to blame.

Stress is also a common trigger. In fact, one clinical study published in the journal Cephalgia found that almost 80 percent of respondents identified stress as a major headache trigger. Odors and scents also play a significant role in triggering and sometimes worsening migraines.

What’s That Smell?

Scents are something we tend to take for granted. As long as they are not offensive or extremely potent, we rarely notice what our surroundings smell like. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t detect the scent around us. As unlikely as it may seem, the human nose can discriminate more than one trillion smells, according to a research study published in 2014.

Our olfactory sense has many purposes, like detecting hazardous agents and shaping our sense of taste. The things we smell every day also influence how we relate and interact with the world around us; different scents can change our mood, transport us back to a particular memory, or, in the case of migraineurs, trigger a headache.

It isn’t clear why scents can trigger headaches in some people. Experts know that when a substance releases its molecules into the air, and we breathe them in, they stimulate a particular type of cells high at the back of the nose, called olfactory sensory neurons. Migraine sufferers are known to be more sensitive to odors because their sensory neurons and pain receptors seem to be more easily aroused than on people without migraines.

Common Migraine-Triggering Scents

Osmophobia is the medical term to describe the intense sensitivity and aversion to scents. While osmophobia is categorized as an anxiety disorder, it’s most commonly seen as a migraine symptom than as a stand-alone condition. Many studies have been conducted to assess the prevalence of osmophobia among migraine sufferers.

A study published in the journal Advanced Biomedical Research that surveyed 300 headache patients in Iran found that 84 percent of migraineurs with aura and 74 percent of migraine sufferers without aura reported that scents triggered some of their attacks. 50 percent of all respondents noted that osmophobia was present in all of their attacks. In another study, 75 percent of participants identified perfumes as a migraine trigger.

Perfumes are not the only smell-related migraine trigger. These are other scents that migraineurs should try to avoid:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Gasoline and gas fumes
  • Motor vehicle exhaust
  • Chemical cleaning products
  • Paint/Paint thinner
  • Incense
  • Campfire smoke
  • Certain types of foods
  • Nail polish/nail polish remover

Preventing Smell-Induced Migraines

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of control over how the world around us smells like. One of the most common odor-related triggers, motor vehicle exhaust, is almost impossible to avoid, no matter how hard we try. At home, it is easier to manage smells by switching to fragrance-free products, using a fan to circulate stale air, going out for fresh air, etc.

Here are some simple strategies you can implement to avoid smell-induced migraines when you are not at home:

  • Ask your employer to implement a fragrance-free policy (here’s an example from the American Lung Association)
  • Use an air purifier
  • Use a migraine stick to block out smells
  • Wear a surgical mask or a nose plug
  • Keep a trigger diary to learn to recognize your smell triggers so you can better avoid them

Finding Your Triggers: Food & Elimination Diet

When you have migraines, knowing your triggers can mean the difference between avoiding a headache or getting one. Even though science is still not sure about what exactly causes migraines, experts know that everyday things like foods, drinks, sounds, smells, and medications can trigger one.

That’s why when people are first diagnosed with migraines, they are advised to keep a diary to record details of their daily activities. Trigger trackers help many migraine sufferers reduce the frequency of their attacks by helping them identify and eliminate potential migraine-inducing factors from their everyday lives.

Every migraineur has different triggers. For example, caffeine can be very polarizing among migraine sufferers: studies have shown that caffeine can be both a headache trigger and an inhibitor, so its effects vary depending on the person taking it. Another example is sleep; some people report getting a migraine after sleeping too little and others after sleeping too much.

But while some triggers are less common than others, different types of food remain at the top of many migraineurs list. If you think certain foods might be triggering your migraines, an elimination diet can help you get a clearer picture. Here’s how to do one.


Identifying Your Food Triggers

Contrary to popular belief, migraine food triggers aren’t always unhealthy, greasy, or sugary foods. Typical things you might frequently eat like citrus fruits, aged cheese, dark chocolate, eggs, apples, and onions have been known to trigger migraines. Still, since everybody responds differently to the substances they consume, the best way to identify the culprits of your recurring headaches is with an elimination diet.


What Is An Elimination Diet

Despite being called a ‘diet,’ elimination diets have nothing to do with weight loss. An elimination diet is the act of removing different food items or groups for a determined amount of time and then slowly reintroducing them to see how the body responds.

In addition to migraines, another reason why people might do an elimination diet is to look for sensitivities. In fact, elimination diets are the gold standard for diagnosing food allergies or intolerances like celiac disease and lactose intolerance.

Elimination diets are divided into two phases: elimination and reintroduction.


Elimination Phase

The aim of the elimination phase is to remove foods you think might be triggering your migraines. This phase should last at least three months, and the goal is to determine if your migraines have changed – e.g., they’ve become less frequent or intense – or if your symptoms remain the same or have worsened.

If you think certain foods might be triggering your migraines, but you don’t where to start, consider cutting out the most common culprits first, including:

  • Canned, cured, and processed meats
  • Alcohol and vinegar
  • Oranges, apples, and bananas
  • Chocolate
  • All dairy products
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Soy products
  • Eggs
  • MSG
  • Wheat
  • Nuts (including peanuts)


The University of Wisconsin has a comprehensive list of potential headache food triggers as well as migraine-safe alternatives to those foods. Read the list here.

If you know for sure that some of these foods aren’t triggers for you, there’s no need to eliminate them. It is important to point out, however, that you should replace any potentially triggering ingredients with healthy foods that are going to provide you with the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.

During the elimination phase, it’s essential that you keep a trigger tracker. Cutting out possible food triggers doesn’t guarantee that you are not going to get migraines, but it will make it easier to pinpoint other potential triggers like lifestyle habits, medications, sleep changes, etc. if you do get one.


Keep a migraine diary and make sure to record every migraine attack, including its severity and duration, as well as any noteworthy information like your sleep quality, your stress levels, the weather, and any significant activities you may have done during the day.


Reintroduction Phase


The idea behind an elimination diet is to find how which foods might be causing your migraines, not to permanently expunge every potential trigger without figuring out how they affect your headaches. That is why during the second phase of your elimination diet, you are going to slowly reintroduce the foods that you eliminated, one by one.

Some experts recommend starting with the food or food group that you think is less likely to trigger a migraine. If, for example, you believe bananas might be safe to eat, try eating one banana a day for two or three days and see how you feel, but don’t overdo it.

It is important to wait at least two days before you reintroduce more food groups. Research suggests that sometimes, prodromal symptoms can precede the headache part of a migraine by up to three days, so don’t rule out a food item just because it didn’t trigger a migraine immediately.


A Word of Caution

Remember to eat enough food and drink plenty of water during your elimination diet. Extreme hunger and dehydration are known migraine triggers and can cause other health issues as well. Always consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have diabetes, are taking medications, or have a serious health condition.

Elimination diets are not foolproof, and while research studies have shown significant improvements both in the frequency and duration of attacks for people who have been able to identify their food triggers, not every migraine is caused by food.

The road to finding relief from migraines is not always a straight one, and not knowing what causes them can be extremely frustrating. Nevertheless, a combination of identifying – and avoiding – your triggers, while implementing a preventive strategy is key.


Avoid Common Thanksgiving Migraine Triggers



Common Thanksgiving Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid Them

It seems like only yesterday we were ringing in the new year, and now we’re getting ready for Thanksgiving and holiday season all over again!  Naturally, the last few months of the year should be filled with joy and happiness, with delicious food, family gatherings, and cozy weather reminding us of what’s really important in life.

But when you suffer from migraines, it’s easy to miss out on the fun. For migraineurs, many of the things that people love the most about the holidays – comfort food, scented candles, Christmas lights, etc. – can also set off a migraine attack.  The good news is that knowing what might trigger an attack can give you an upper hand against your migraines this holiday season.

There are four major migraine triggers to look out for during Thanksgiving:


Most migraine sufferers know that it’s not uncommon to get a headache at the end of a particularly tough day.  In fact, according to the American Headache Society, 4 out of 5 migraineurs recognize stress as a trigger.  Experts are still not entirely sure why stress triggers migraines. However, some hypothesize that it might have something to do with the hormones that the body secretes when it’s under stress.

If stress is a big trigger for you, it is essential to avoid taking on too many roles for Thanksgiving and make sure to ask for help. Cooking dinner for guests without help, volunteering to bring too many dishes to the party, or even traveling during the days leading up to Thanksgiving are all common stressors during the holidays.

Food & Drink Triggers

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that revolves around food – every November, people suddenly start craving turkey, gravy, and everything pumpkin spice. However, when you suffer from chronic migraines, it’s important to pay attention to what and how much you eat and drink.

Here are frequent migraine triggers that may be lurking on the Thanksgiving table this year:

Spicy foods
Cured meats
Aged cheese
Pickled foods

Weather Changes

Do your migraines usually occur at the same time each year? If they do, you might be sensitive to temperature and pressure changes. Weather and temperature affect everybody differently; in some people, certain barometric changes can cause chemical imbalances that affect how the brain responds to pain signals. In other cases, bright lights, extreme cold, and dryness or humidity can trigger or worsen migraines.

To avoid weather-related migraine attacks this Thanksgiving, keep an eye on the weather forecast so you’re not caught off-guard and can prepare ahead. For example, plan to stay indoors during extremely cold or windy days; drink plenty of water to keep your sinuses moisturized; and use warm clothing even if you’re going to be outside for a short time.


3 Tips – Getting Through Thanksgiving Migraine-Free

In addition to keeping an eye out for any potential triggers, these tips can help you stay migraine-free during Thanksgiving:

Remember Holidays Past

Did you get a pounding headache last Thanksgiving? Try to remember what you did, ate, and drank that day so you can avoid it this year. Maybe it was all that cheese you ate or the extra glass or two of wine that you had. Perhaps, you know that a family member’s perfume always triggers a migraine, in which case you can politely ask them to refrain from using it this year. Whatever the case may be, use last year’s (or the year before) pain to your advantage this year to plan ahead.


If you are hosting this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, it is crucial to start delegating tasks early on. Asking friends and family members to bring along a food contribution will keep you from stressing out and potentially getting a migraine on the day of the dinner. Also, remember to ask for help whenever you need it. If you feel a migraine coming up, don’t be afraid to leave someone in charge and take a break before it turns into a full-blown attack.

Keep Your Medications Handy

Whether you’re traveling or spending Thanksgiving at home, stock up on your preventive and abortive migraine medications before Thanksgiving if you are running low. A daily nutritional supplement like MigreLief can be of great help during the holiday season; just choose one of the three MigreLief’s everyday formulas and take it twice per day for daily maintenance. You can also use MigreLief-NOW as an as-needed supplement when you need fast-acting support.


Wishing you a wonderful migraine-free Thanksgiving holiday!


It’s the 4th of July. Make Sure Only Fireworks Explode and Not Your Head!

Migraine Relief - MigreLiefThis 4th of July… be prepared.  Keep MigreLief-NOW on hand at all times in case of an emergency and take at the first sign of discomfort.

The 4th of July is fun for most everyone. But certain aspects of what we do on the 4th can bring on a migraine attack.

Avoid common migraine triggers:

1- Barbequed meats, cheeses, chips, dips, pickles & olives, meat tenderizers, diet sodas – The chemicals found in these ingredients have all been associated with migraines

2- Loud Noises – Don’t get to close to the fireworks and cover ears if sensitive

3- Bright Lights – Consider wearing sunglasses when watching the fireworks

4- Alcohol – When combined with all of the above can bring on migraine in many people. So stick with water, fruit juice, coffee, or if available, beverages sweetened with stevia or erythritol.

What is best to eat?

Burgers without tenderizers, prepared with basic seasonings like salt and pepper. grilled chicken with vegetables, and fruit salads are healthier substitutes….don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

Don’t for get that Akeso Health Sciences, fast acting migraine formula, MigreLief-NOW is great to keep on hand during emergencies.  Adults should take 2-4 capsules at the first sign of distress (children age 2-11 take 1/2 the adult dose) and enjoy your holiday.

Hopefully these hints will keep you independent of migraines on Independence Day!


Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N., C.N.S


Sweetener Sucralose/Splenda – Oh No! Not Another Migraine Trigger

Spenda imageA case report about a woman whose migraines were being triggered by the artificial sweetner  Sucralose/Splenda was published by the Albert  Einstein School of Medicine, dept. of  neurology.

When the physicians withdrew the sucralose her migraines stopped and when they reintroduced it, they  began again.

If you look carefully at the labels of low calorie drinks and foods you will find sucralose in many of them.  It is not yet clear if sucralose serves as a trigger for lots of migraine sufferers.  Only time will tell.

Interestingly, this woman also reported menstrual migraines that were caused by her birth control pills. When the physicians switched from a fixed estrogen birth control medicine to a triphasic, her menstrual migraines improved significantly.

If you are on birth control pills and feel that they may be contributing to your migraine headaches, speak to your doctor about possibly switching to a different one.

Curt Hendrix B.S. M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.