ME/CFS, Mystery Headaches and the Menopause

A few weeks ago, I was struggling with some serious headaches that didn’t seem to respond to pain killers. Even though my energy wasn’t affected I felt nauseous if I moved too much, so I was really wiped out. For a few years I’ve been getting headaches during allergy season, so at first, I put them down to that, but these were more severe and debilitating and just seemed different somehow.

Suddenly it occurred to me that with the nausea, and that fact that I was running to the loo 10 minutes after every drink, it reminded me of times in my past when I’ve become seriously dehydrated, so I experimented with taking some rehydration salts. The next morning, I woke up headache free.

Unfortunately though, my reprieve didn’t last long. Even when healthy I’ve always been more prone to dehydration than those around me. If I sweat a lot, I seem to easily get to the point that drinking no longer hydrates me. I seems that I’ve lost too many salts and my body can no longer absorb the fluids I take in. Since having ME/CFS I haven’t really been active enough to really sweat, so it hasn’t been much of an issue. However recently I’ve had more energy and have been more active, it’s also been very hot. But what has really tipped the balance, is that I’ve reached that time in a woman’s life when hot flushes become a regular occurrence. It took me a while to relate waking up several times at night in  a damp flush, to the fact that I was losing a lot of my fluid and salts.

Various studies have shown that a large proportion of people with ME/CFS have low blood volume*. This can leave you even more vulnerable to the effects of dehydration. Maybe my hot flushes would dehydrate me even if I didn’t have ME/CFS, but I do and combined, the risk is higher. It’s not just the painful symptoms of dehydration we need to avoid. We need to stay well hydrated for our lymphatic system to work well. Our lymphatic system plays an important role in detox, if it gets hampered our general condition could get worse. Since my struggles with dehydration, my general energy levels have taken a bit of a knock.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep taking re-hydration salts because of their sugar content but at a local parafarmacia (a kind of alternative pharmacy / herbalist) I was recommended some filtered sea water. I was told to dilute it 1 part sea water to 2 parts ordinary water and could take it up to 3 times a day if necessary. This immediately did the trick, but since my first drink which tasted delicious, this dilution has seemed too salty. I now dilute 1 part sea water to 3 parts ordinary water and take it twice a day unless I feel a headache threatening in which case I take a third stronger solution. A member of my support group adds a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt to every glass of water she drinks instead.

My headaches are now a thing of the past, but I haven’t quite got back to the amazingly high energy levels I was experiencing before. I have faith that I will though, one step at a time!

Are you adequately hydrated? Are you absorbing the fluids you drink or do they go straight through you?

N.B. If you eat a lot of processed food or are prone to high blood pressure please consult your doctor before considering adding salts to your regime.

*Articles about ME/CFS and low blood volume:

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1 thought on “ME/CFS, Mystery Headaches and the Menopause”

  1. This is really interesting, Julie! I found a similar effect when using rehydration sachets after bouts of diarrhoea. I felt better generally after using them, and it re-energised me better than water alone. Maybe I should be taki g them daily?!


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