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Headache patients 'should drink more water'

Patients with recurrent headaches can ease their symptoms by drinking more water, a new study reports.

The randomised controlled trial recruited 102 patients from GP practices in the Netherlands between June 2005 and June 2006. Participants had at least two episodes of moderately intense headache or at least five mildly intense episodes per month, and a daily fluid intake of less than 2.5 litres.

The control group received written instructions on stress reduction and sleep improvement and the intervention group, in addition to this, had instructions to increase their daily water intake by 1.5 litres.

At three-month follow-up, the intervention group had an improvement of 4.5 points on the Migraine-Specific Quality of Life questionnaire and some 47% reported an improvement of six or higher on a 10-point scale, compared with 25% in the control group. But drinking more water had no effect on the monthly headache frequency or duration.

Study author Professor André Knottnerus, professor of general practice at the University of Maastricht, said: ‘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 online 23 November

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