When headaches signal a serious problem, and the easy way to fix it

May 20, 2008
Volume 05    |   Issue 19

As you enter your 60s and 70s, a whole lot of bodily functions slow down. You produce fewer hormones, your liver takes longer to detoxify, you get more lethargic, and you?re more prone to headaches.

When your body slows down and these problems occur, doctors usually look for disease, clogged arteries, and any number of other possibilities. Or they just tell you you?re getting old. But they often overlook one of the most common causes of these problems - and it?s not old age.

It?s a serious problem for anyone over 60. It can send you to the hospital and be life threatening. Or it can give you a headache and make you feel lethargic and lazy. Fortunately, all of this is preventable.

The problem is simply dehydration. While dehydration isn?t a new problem, you may not realize that your body?s natural thirst signals begin to slow down as you age. So you may not be able to rely on it to tell you when you need more water.

There?s actually an area in your brain that tells you when you need to drink more water. If you don?t pay attention to this signal, or if this area isn?t working properly, you could become dehydrated. This place in your brain is the mid-cingulate cortex.

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A team of Australian scientists gave older (age 65-74) and younger (age 21-30) people some salty water to drink. Then they asked the participants to drink as much water as they liked. All were equally thirsty, but the younger participants drank twice as much water as the seniors.

Then the researchers used PET imaging and found that the mid-cingulate cortex in their brains turned off earlier in the older people. Their brains were not producing a signal that they needed more water.

So pay attention to how much you drink and don?t let yourself become dehydrated - even if you?re not thirsty. Instead of waiting for thirst, pay attention to a slight dryness in your mouth. When you feel this, reach for some water. Don?t ignore it like you usually do.

How much water do you need? These researchers recommend eight glasses a day. But new research you probably heard last week says you may not need that much. I say, drink as much as you need to take away any dryness. Some people need more than others, so don?t go by these "one size fits all" standards.

Try this and you may find that an afternoon headache or lack of motivation disappears. This simple solution could keep you out of the hospital and even save your life. Be sure to carry any water with you in stainless steel bottles. Why? Read the May 6th free health alert.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


Howard Florey Institute (2007, December 18). "Brain Malfunction Explains Dehydration in Elderly." ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2007, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217192400.htm.

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