Headache after Diarrhea: Know the Causes and Remedies

If you have just recently experienced a headache after diarrhea, researchers are finding there may be a common reason for this. Gastrointestinal illness, migraine headaches, and things that cause dehydration can lead to these two showing up together. This article will explain some of the things that cause you to get a headache after or with an episode of diarrhea, if it is anything to worry about, and things you can do to help.

Why Did You Get A Headache after Diarrhea?

A headache right after diarrhea, or even during a bout of diarrhea can be due to a number of reasons. Studies show they can occur together, and some of the causes are nothing to worry about, but a few may be serious. Here a list of some of the more common causes:

1. Viral Infection

Headaches and diarrhea often go hand-in-hand if you are suffering from a viral infection. Viruses are invaders that are tinier than bacteria, but pack a stronger punch on the body. They get inside and begin to multiply as they attach to your cells. Your body then has to fight off the virus on its own, so the headache may stick around even after the diarrhea has gone away.

Other symptoms include fever, vomiting, muscle aches, cough, abdominal cramping, sore throat, and fatigue.

2. Dehydration

A headache after diarrhea could signal dehydration. When you have diarrhea, you risk losing too many fluids. This can cause a drop in electrolytes, which can be dangerous. If you had 3 or more episodes of diarrhea in a day, you are at increased risk of diarrhea.

Other symptoms include dry mouth, excessive thirst, dark urine, dry skin, muscle cramping, and lack of tears.

3. Food Poisoning

Bacteria, parasites, and viruses in food can cause food poisoning. It often leads to a bad case of diarrhea, and can cause a headache. Food poisoning can start as soon as 30 minutes after eating a food that is contaminated.

Other symptoms include chills, fever, abdominal cramping, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea with blood.

4. Migraine Headache

New research has shown there might be a common link between migraine headaches, and diarrhea and/or vomiting. In children, this usually starts out with vomiting, diarrhea, and dizzy spells. As they get older, they experience gastrointestinal symptoms, and then the migraine headache sets in. Adults who suffer from migraines tend to have more issues with diarrhea, acid reflux, and nausea.

Other symptoms include seeing an aura prior to an episode, flashing lights, light sensitivity, appetite loss, noise sensitivity, and ringing in ears.

5. Antibiotic Side-Effect

Antibiotic use can wipe out infections, but they can also wipe out all the “good” bacteria in your gut. This can lead to one of the possible side-effects, diarrhea. If you notice a headache after diarrhea with antibiotics, this may also be a side-effect of the medication.

Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, feeling dizzy, abdominal pain, and yeast infections.

6. Too Much Caffeine

Overuse of caffeine can stimulate the bowels and cause diarrhea. Too much caffeine can also trigger a headache in sensitive people. Headaches and diarrhea usually start shortly after caffeine intake and taper off as the caffeine wears off.

Other symptoms include feeling shaky/jittery, nausea, muscle twitching, fast heartbeat, irregular heartbeats, agitation, sensitivity to sounds, and anxiety.

Could It Be Something Serious?

Yes. One concern with a headache after diarrhea is dehydration. If you have been suffering from diarrhea for 3 or more days, you can be at risk for serious dehydration. Diarrhea can lower your body fluid levels quickly. Dehydration puts you at risk for low electrolyte levels, which can affect the heart rhythm and organ function.

How to Deal with It

Getting a headache with diarrhea can be a miserable experience. You just want to rest, but have to keep getting up to the bathroom. If you know why this is happening, there are steps you can take at home to relieve some of the discomfort. Try these helpful tips:

  • Drink fluids. If you have diarrhea, you will need to replace lost fluids to prevent dehydration. This may actually help prevent a headache after the diarrhea goes away. Use a good electrolyte replacement beverage to help replace sodium, and potassium.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Try an over-the-counter pain reliever for the headache. This may also help relieve any abdominal cramping you may be having with the diarrhea. Make sure to check with your doctor first.
  • Try an over-the-counter anti-diarrheal if your doctor gives the okay. Keep in mind these are not safe with food poisoning or viral illness. Diarrhea may be your body trying to get rid of the virus or bacteria. These are most safe in cases of caffeine overuse, medication side-effects, and even diarrhea that happens with a migraine.
  • Eat a soft or clear liquid diet (BRAT). Be gentle on your tummy, but keep nutrients coming into your body. Avoid spicy and greasy foods until you are better. Eat the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast). These are foods that can help “bulk” up the stool and slow the digestive system down.
  • Sniff some rosemary. Rosemary can help relieve headaches and calm the stomach. It is best used as aromatherapy. You can burn some rosemary oil in a burner, or sniff some fresh rosemary.
  • Try yogurt with antibiotic use. If you experience diarrhea with antibiotics, try using yogurt daily while taking them. This will help keep the good bacteria in your digestive system and ease diarrhea.

When to Seek Medical Help

If you experience a headache after diarrhea that does not go away, you need to check it with your doctor. If you have symptoms of dehydration that seem to be getting worse with confusion, very dry mouth, skin that does not bounce back when pinched, you need to get to the emergency room for possible fluid replacement.