Drink 4 Cups More Water/Day?

I was looking at the website Dr Nick Silver refers to in his talk, Migraine Action, and came across a piece about a study that was inspired by the observation that a patient with a bladder problem who had been instructed to increase daily water intake had a decrease in migraine symptoms. I looked for a simple summary of the study and found this health blog in the New York Times that described the study, which was published in Neurology:

“…scientists recruited migraine sufferers and divided them into two groups. Those in the first group were given a placebo medication to take regularly. The others were told to drink 1.5 liters of water, or about six cups, in addition to their usual daily intake. At the end of two weeks, the researchers found that those in the water group had increased their fluid intake by just four cups a day. But on average they experienced 21 fewer hours of pain during the study period than those in the placebo group, and a decrease in the intensity of their headaches.”

I know it’s not good to drink gallons of fluid in excess of the daily recommendations - that can be dangerous for your electrolyte balance - but I’m going to shoot for a few cups over my usual intake and see what happens. I think it’s worth a try! Even if headache isn’t your worst migraine symptom, you may want to consider trying this too. Doesn’t seem to have a lot of risks associated with it.

I saw Dr Silver myself and he diagnosed Migraine Vertigo for me. He told me to drink 3 litres of fluid a day. I find it really hard to measure how much I drink over the course of a day though x

Bernstein just says to stay well hydrated. For some people that may require 3 L a day and for others 1. I think you should do what feels right for you.


Jem, I suspect many of us are mildly dehydrated and don’t know it - for the very reason you mention. It’s hard to stay well hydrated (the basic recommendations I’ve seen in a number of places are 9 cups of liquid a day for women, 13 cups for men) if you don’t know how much you’ve actually had - then to try to add 4 cups on top of that would really be a challenge!

I have a water dispenser in my fridge that measures out the ounces as it dispenses, so that helps me to measure for my drinking water and herbal tea; I take water from home with me when I go out, and that’s been pre-measured. I drink some fruit juice at home, but I always use the same kind of drinking glass, and I’ve measured how much it holds. I’ve developed a new habit of keeping a large insulated tumbler of ice water next to me pretty much at all times, so I will sip throughout the day - it’s easier to get more fluid in that way.

If you want to find out if you’re getting close to 3 liters, you could measure out that much water some day you’re going to spend at home - keep it in the fridge in bottles or pitchers or whatever. You can make tea from it, if you need a break from cold water, but just use those 3 liters for your liquid for the day. See if you can finish it all with no difficulty. If it’s really hard to get that much in, that will probably tell you you’re not in the habit of getting close to the target Dr S set for you.

I think drinking more water at the onset of a migraine would have been common advice for many years. I recall an elderly friend telling me so years ago. Being well hydrated seems to carry many benefits. Just today saw a mention in the Daily Mail about drinking eight glasses of water a day in middle age decreases the chance of heart problems in later life. I must admit I wonder how much influence the extra exercise brought on by all those extra trips to the bathroom may have had in achieving this result but then I’m no scientist.

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I do not understand why drinking a lot of water would be good. Of course, we should not be dehydrated, but drinking more water than needed, surely is not a good idea. If I drink too much water, I spend my day in the bathroom.

When I was in hospital with my VM attack in May, the doctor put me on IV drips and the nurses measured my urine output. They said that “we need to make sure that we don’t overload your body”.

I know it is popular to say “drink a lot of water”, but I cannot understand why this is supposed to be good.

Too me when it comes to water and bathroom trips. In fact I’ve got to the point I can predict exactly when in the day to stop excess drinking of liquid if I don’t want to be getting up in the night!

The constant sipping at a bottle of water I think is a very recent innovation. But of a generational thing even maybe. Taking on up to one litre at the start of an migraine attack goes a long way however. Many specialists recommend it. My friend Judy referred to above always said it helped her immensely. For her it proved as good as a cure. Similar to you I was told not to worry too much about dehydration during an acute attack as it was highly unlikely lying still in bed unless of course excessive vomiting was involved. That advice was given at a time when for days on end I could only sip tiny amounts via a drinking straw. As long as the Prochlorperazine kept the vomiting away doctors were more than happy to keep me out of hospital and off an IV drip. I’d suspect overhydration could well be problematic in that situation though.


If you have trouble tracking where you are on your water, you can pick up one of these handy bottles at Amazon. It has a Camelback style straw and the times of the day on the bottle to remind you where you should be to drink 64 oz.


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