Patients with recurrent headaches should be advised to drink more water, a randomised trial concludes.
Although advice to drink an extra 1.5L per day did not cut actual numbers of headaches, it did significantly boost patients’ perceived quality of life and led many to feel their headaches improved.
And given the low risk associated with the approach, the researchers say all headache patients should try it, at least for a time.
The study involved 102 primary-care patients in the Netherlands who had experienced multiple headaches in the preceding month, and who were drinking less than 2.5L of fluid per day.
All were advised by their GP to reduce stress and sleep better, and directed to self-help materials if they wanted to know more.
Half of the participants were also advised to increase their daily water intake by 1.5L — ideally split into three portions of 0.5L, spread throughout the day.
After three months, patients in the water group were consuming an average of 842mL more water per day than before.
They also scored significantly higher on scales of quality of life and functioning — 47% met the study’s definition of “much improvement”, compared to just 25% of patients in the control group.
However there was no significant difference between groups in the number of days with moderate or severe headaches, or the number of days on which medications were used.
“Considering the observed positive subjective effects … we suspect that some headache patients do benefit from drinking more water,” said the researchers, whose study was published in Family Practice (online).
“However these findings need replication and better investigation in specific subpopulations.
“In the meantime, it seems reasonable to recommend headache patients to try this non-invasive intervention for a short period of time to see whether they experience improvement.”
Family Practice 2011
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