When Should I Contact A Healthcare Provider About Dehydration At What Point Is Dehydration Dangerous
The amount of water needed on a daily basis depends on many factors, so its best to check in with your healthcare provider to determine exactly how much will keep you healthy.
Always drink water immediately if you feel thirsty. Remember if you feel thirsty, youre already dehydrated. You may see the symptoms of dehydration improve in as little as five to 10 minutes.
If you think your symptoms of dehydration are severe, dont hesitate to seek help! Dehydration can contribute to kidney stones, kidney failure and heatstroke, all life-threatening illnesses. Call 911 or go to the emergency room right away if you have symptoms of severe dehydration, or heatstroke:
- A temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Muscle twitching.
- Confusion, altered mental state, slurred speech.
Symptoms Of An Electrolyte Imbalance
Symptoms of low electrolytes are often similar to symptoms you may experience if you are dehydrated, which makes sense considering the crucial role electrolytes play in regulating the bodys fluids. These symptoms may include:
- Change in heartbeat
Some symptoms are specific to a deficiency in one or more minerals that double as electrolytes.
Please note: the prefix hypo- means low, and is the opposite of the prefix hyper-, which means high. For example, hypomagnesemia signals a magnesium deficiency, while hypermagnesemia means the levels of magnesium in the body are too high.
Each condition has its own symptoms, but this section will focus only on the symptoms of electrolyte deficiencies.
All in all, there are many different symptoms that can signal low electrolytes, so it is crucial to find out exactly what is causing this depletion in order to properly treat it.
What Roles Do Specific Electrolytes Play
As we have already mentioned, electrolytes play a significant role in a wide variety of bodily functions. These include the following:
- Calcium: Helps allow the contraction of muscles, aids blood clotting, nerve signaling, and cell division. It also plays an important role in bone and teeth formation and maintenance.
- Magnesium: Is necessary for the contraction of muscles, heart rhythm, proper nerve function, bone development and digestion. It can also help maintain the balance of protein-fluid and ease anxiety.
- Potassium: Helps to regulate heartbeat and blood pressure as well as aiding muscle function.
- Chloride: Is necessary to maintain proper fluid balance in the body.
- Sodium: Also maintains fluid balance and is also important for nerve signaling and proper muscle contractions.
Also Check: Stasis Migraine
Can Your Sodium Level Be Too Low
Symptoms of a low sodium level include nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, feeling weak or tired, restlessness, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps and seizures or passing out.
Most Americans eat much more sodium than their bodies require. Too much sodium can worsen high blood pressure and heart failure. For these reasons, many Americans are advised to reduce the amount of sodium they eat. Because there is so much sodium in most foods, it is very difficult to eat too little.
But can sodium in the blood be low even if the amount of sodium in the body is too high? It can.
Low blood sodium is called hyponatremia. Although an underlying health condition usually causes low blood sodium levels, there are still signs that indicate if your levels are low.
What Are Electrolytes + Their Vital Roles
Fluids in your body contain electrolytes gained from the food and liquids you consume. Electrolytes are chemicals or nutrients in your body that have many essential responsibilities for your healthy functioning and overall well-being, including brain, nerve, and muscle function, and the creation of new tissue .
When electrolytes dissolve in your body fluid, it allows them to conduct electricity and sends electrical signals throughout your body to support bodily functions to keep you alive and healthy. Among various functions, electrolytes help to regulate your heartbeat and allow muscle contraction and movement .
Because electrolytes are necessary for healthy functioning, keeping your electrolytes at a healthy level is essential. Electrolyte imbalance can result in negative, and sometimes serious symptoms. You may lose electrolytes through sweating, exercise, going to the bathroom, or due to a poor diet. You can replenish them through a variety of foods and fluids and by ensuring a nutrient-dense diet and essential hydration. .
Electrolytes include salt, potassium, calcium, chloride, and other minerals. Each plays a specific role in your body. Lets take a look at them one by one .
You May Like: Why Do Migraines Go Away After Vomiting
Can Dehydration Cause Headaches All By Its Lonesome
Dehydration happens when you lose too much fluid too fast. There are three main types of dehydration:
- Hypertonic : The loss of water
- Hypotonic : The loss of electrolytes
- Isotonic : The loss of both water and electrolytes
Regardless of the type of dehydration, the symptoms are often similar and can include headaches and migraines. However, when electrolyte imbalances enter the picture it can kick symptoms up to a whole nother level…
What Happens When Your Body Is Low On Electrolytes
If you have ever suffered from dehydration, you know just how bad being low on electrolytes can feel. There’s a reason for that. Electrolytes are responsible for regulating some critical bodily functions. So critical, in fact, that severe dehydration can cause death.
That sounds grim, I know. However, it’s vital to understand the importance of staying hydrated. It’s not just about drinking some water every day. When your body becomes low on electrolytes, it can impair your body’s functions, such as blood clotting, muscle contractions, acid balance, and fluid regulation. Your heart is a muscle, so that means electrolytes help regulate your heartbeat.
The last thing you want when you are on the field or the track is to have to worry about a looming electrolyte imbalance in your body. You need to know that your body and, most importantly, your heart is armed with what it needs to perform optimally. Drinking HYDRATE, a high quality oral rehydrating solution, is one way to ensure that your electrolyte balance remains in check.
This article will discuss what electrolytes are, what causes low electrolytes, the symptoms of low electrolytes, and how to replenish them.
Doctor’s Notes On Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is the term that refers to an abnormally low level of sodium in the bloodstream. Low sodium blood levels may be caused by excess fluid in the body relative to a normal amount of sodium, or it may be due to a loss of sodium and body fluid caused by chronic conditions like kidney failure or congestive heart failure . It has been referred to as water intoxication because it can arise due to the consumption of excessive water without adequate sodium replacement.
Associated symptoms and signs of hyponatremia are nonspecific and can occur with many other conditions. They may include mental changes, tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, and seizures. In extreme cases, when sodium levels are very low, coma and even death may result.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration
Theres a lot more to dehydration than just feeling thirsty. Common signs and symptoms of dehydration can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
When ish really hits the fan you may also experience fainting, blurry vision, loss of balance, kidney damage, heart problems and even seizures. Yikes! Electrolyte imbalances may also contribute to diarrhea, constipation and cramping.
Fortunately, theres plenty you can do to cure dehydration headaches once and for all…
You May Like: Headache Medicines With Caffeine
Potassium And Migraine Treatment
One of the medications that can be effective in treating migraines contains potassium. This medication, diclofenac-potassium, helps relieve both the pain associated with migraines and other associated symptoms, including nausea and vomiting. Diclofenac-potassium usually relieves pain within 60 to 90 minutes, and is generally well tolerated, according to a study published in June 1999 in “Drugs.”
Causes Signs & Symptoms Of Dehydration Headaches
The body requires the proper balance of fluid and electrolytes to function properly. Every day, your body loses water through daily activities, such as sweating and urinating, and typically you make up for that loss naturally with the foods you eat and fluids you drink. But sometimes, this balance can get out of whack due to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or extreme sweating.
An imbalance of fluid and electrolytes in the body can result in a dehydration headache. When your body is dehydrated, your brain may temporarily contract or shrink from fluid loss. This causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing pain and resulting in a headache. Once rehydrated, the brain plumps up and returns to its normal state, relieving the discomfort.
The headaches can be relatively mild or as severe as a migraine, and the pain may occur at the front, back, side, or all over the head. Typically, there is no facial pain or pressure, and there is not often pain in the back of the neck.
Since dehydration headaches only occur when the body is dehydrated, other symptoms of dehydration will occur with the headache. These symptoms may include:
- Extreme thirst
- Increased heart rate
Read Also: How Long Do Migraines Last For
How To Solve An Electrolyte Imbalance
1. Adjust Your Diet
The first step to correcting an electrolyte imbalance is to identify how it developed in the first place. For many people, a poor diet thats high in processed foods containing lots of sodium, but low in other electrolytes like magnesium or potassium, paves the way for a dangerous imbalance. In many cases, a minor electrolyte imbalance can be corrected by simply making dietary changes and cutting way back on junk foods, takeout and restaurant foods, while instead cooking more fresh foods at home.
Focus your diet around whole, unpackaged foods especially plenty of vegetables and fruits that provide potassium and magnesium. Some of the best include leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cabbage, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or squash, bananas, and avocados. A diet thats rich in magnesium or potassium likely can be enough to solve problems like low potassium levels that can lead to blood pressure problems or magnesium deficiency that can contribute to anxiety, restlessness and muscle cramps.
To prevent dehydration and restore electrolytes, focus on these foods which are some of the most hydrating due to being very water-dense:
2. Monitor Your Sodium Intake
Monitoring how much sodium you consume helps keep symptoms at bay, including bloating, lethargy, dehydration, weakness, irritability and muscle twitching. Drinking water and eating mostly whole foods also ensures you obtain enough other important electrolytes.
The Potassium/ammonia Axis Theory
In his paper the pathogenesis of vascular headaches in patients with hypertension the role of the ammonia-potassium axis, Paul G Cohen MD takes a conceptual approach in the connection between low potassium levels and headaches. Dr. Cohen puts forth the idea that low potassium levels alter the smooth muscle functions in the bowel and bladder resulting in alkaline urine. The presence of hypokalemia with the resulting increased ammonia set off a series of body responses that result in increased blood ammonia and higher than normal brain concentrations of ammonia that can interfere with cerebral blood flow and brain function.
In another paper, Dr. Cohen notes that as many as 25% patients with high blood pressure complain of headaches that have little relationship to actual blood pressure levels. He noted that low potassium levels, increased blood ammonia, and alkaline urine are common patterns in patients with vascular headaches.
Recommended Reading: Is Sativa Or Indica Better For Migraines
Eat Rather Than Drink Your Electrolytes
We often associate electrolytes with sports drinksjust dont confuse them with energy drinks, which can be unhealthy. But you can also eat your electrolytes. Eating for electrolyte balance is similar to eating for overall health and wellness and it is the best way to avoid an electrolyte imbalance, says Foroutan. Foods rich in electrolytespotatoes, avocados, spinach, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peas, and beansare dense in important vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are co-factors in metabolic processes, the many kinds of reactions that happen in your body behind the scene such as muscle contraction, brain health, and muscle recovery, says Foroutan. Dont miss these 13 nutrients even nutritionists dont get enough of.
Robb Report, Luxury magazine, Reader’s Digest,
Muscle Cramps And Spasms
Muscle cramps are sudden, uncontrolled contractions of the muscles.
They can occur when potassium levels are low in the blood .
Within muscle cells, potassium helps relay signals from the brain that stimulate contractions. It also helps end these contractions by moving out of the muscle cells .
When blood potassium levels are low, your brain cannot relay these signals as effectively. This results in more prolonged contractions, such as muscle cramps.
Summary Potassium helps start and stop muscle contractions. Low blood potassium levels can affect this balance, causing uncontrolled and prolonged contractions known as cramps.
Recommended Reading: How Common Are Visual Migraines
Causes Of Dehydration Headaches
Dehydration can happen easily and for simple reasons. If you forget to drink enough water on a hot day, while exercising or during a hike, you could end up dehydrated. In some places, there may be no access to safe drinking water which can exacerbate the situation.
Other times, dehydration can occur because youre sick. Even a relatively mild cold or sore throat can make you more susceptible to dehydration if you dont feel like eating or drinking. Being sick with a fever can also worsen a situation where you are losing fluids and electrolytes through diarrhea and vomiting.
We lose fluid and electrolytes through four main ways:
- Diarrhea: When you are sick and have severe acute diarrhea, this can cause a huge loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time.
- Vomiting: Being sick and vomiting is also a way to lose fluid and electrolytes.
- Sweating: When you are very active or are outside in hot weather, you sweat more and in turn lose more fluid. If the weather is humid, sweat cant evaporate and cool you as quickly as normal, which causes your body to heat up and need even more fluids.
- Urinating: Some conditions, such as undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, can cause you to urinate more than normal. Similarly, certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, can also cause increased urination.
This loss of fluids and electrolytes can result in a dehydration headache.
Changes In Your Heartbeat
One of the major symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance is a noticeable change in your heartbeat or palpitations. When potassium levels in the body are very high, it can result in a condition known as hyperkalemia. This condition causes a disruption in the signals sent from the nerves to your muscles. This condition can result in your muscles feeling weak, numb and tingly. High potassium levels also disturb your heartbeat and rhythm. This can have other knock-on effects like raising your levels of anxiety.
It is not only a potassium imbalance that can lead to irregular heartbeats. High levels of calcium can also impact the electrical transmissions of your heart and cause a noticeable change in rhythm like palpitations or a racing heartbeat.
Also Check: Can You Get A Fever With A Migraine
Excessive Itchiness And Poor Circulation
Levels of the electrolyte phosphate in the blood are essential to building the energy molecule called ATP , which stores and transports chemical energy to cells. Too much phosphate can mean your kidneys are compromised. The electrolyte is derived from phosphorous, which is found in protein-rich foods such as dairy and meatand needs to be balanced by the kidneys. So the greatest risk factor for hyperphosphatemia is advanced renal disease, says Dr. Bal. But it can also happen from the destruction of muscular tissue as all body cells have phosphorous as their building block. That destruction? Dr. Bal is referring to excessive muscle breakdown from an overzealous workout or extreme hike or runyoull know it as extremely sore muscles. When phosphorus levels are too high, you may experience severe itchiness and calcification of the blood vessels which can affect your circulatory system and cause kidney stones. Processed meats and canned foods are very high in phosphates as it is a common preservative and flavoring agent, says Dr. Bal. When phosphorus levels fall too low, its can be due to malnutrition or alcoholism the symptoms include weak respiratory muscles, cardiac arrhythmia, and even death, he says.
Symptoms And Signs Of Dehydration
While dehydration can be mild, it can also be severe, leading to serious effects like unconsciousness and death in extreme cases. Whereas mild dehydration may not initially cause any symptoms, as it progresses, these symptoms and signs may occur:
- Eyes that appear sunken in the face
- Dry mouth or cracked lips
You May Like: What Do Beta Blockers Do For Migraines
How Electrolytes Work And The Causes Of An Imbalance
Electrolytes are found within bodily fluids, including urine, blood and sweat. Electrolytes are given their name because they literally have an electric charge. They separate into positively and negatively charged ions when theyre dissolved in water.
The reason this is important is because of how nerve reactions take place. Your nerves signal to one another by a process of chemical exchanges dependent on oppositely charged ions, both outside and inside of your cells.
An electrolyte imbalance can be caused by a number of different factors, including short-term illnesses, medications, dehydration and underlying chronic disorders. Some of the common causes of electrolyte imbalance are due to fluid loss, which can stem from situations including:
- Being sick with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, sweating or high fevers that can all produce fluid loss or dehydration
- A poor diet thats low in essential nutrients from whole foods
- Trouble absorbing nutrients from food due to intestinal or digestive issues
- Numbness and pain in joints
- Dizziness, especially when standing up suddenly
To diagnose an electrolyte imbalance, your doctor can perform a few different tests to determine your electrolyte levels. Most likely your health care provider will discuss your medical history with you, any reoccurring symptoms you experience, and take a urine and blood test to identify any abnormalities.
- Calcium: 55.5 mEq/L