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What Is a Diabetes Headache?

diabetes headache

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  • Diabetes headaches are commonly caused by the changes in blood sugar and its effect on the blood vessels in the brain
  • Read on for some tips that you can follow to prevent diabetes headaches

One of the possible symptoms of diabetes is having moderate to severe headaches. In case of severe headaches, there is a chance that this may become debilitating and impede you from performing your daily activities.

How Do You Get Diabetes Headaches?

Diabetes headaches are commonly caused by low blood sugar, high blood sugar or fluctuations between the two. The brain is in constant need of glucose to keep functioning, which means that it's also one of the first organs affected when there is either too much or not enough sugar in the system.

During episodes of low blood sugar, the blood vessels in the brain may start to spasm, causing the headache. Having low blood sugar can also cause you to become disoriented, shaky, dizzy and anxious.1

High blood sugar levels may also cause diabetes headaches. It is also the most common cause of headaches in diabetes patients. When there is too much sugar in the body, it starts to work overtime to try and decrease the glucose levels.

This means that your body starts to excrete the sugar through the urine. The increased urine production may then cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which aggravates the headache.2

The fluctuations in blood sugar can also alter the production of both norepinephrine and epinephrine, which can cause tremors, sweating and anxiety. If you are currently taking diabetes medications or insulin, make sure that you're taking the correct dosage.3

Here Are Some Tips to Prevent Diabetes Headaches

After learning what causes diabetes headaches, it becomes apparent that closely monitoring your blood glucose levels is very important to guard against this symptom. Some of the tips that you can follow to prevent diabetes headaches are:

  • Avoid skipping meals — Diabetics should avoid skipping meals as it may cause a dramatic dip in blood sugar, which may trigger diabetes headaches and a barrage of other debilitating symptoms. Skipping meals may also cause you to overeat on your next meal.4
  • Eliminate possible trigger foods — If you've been suffering from constant headaches, it's advisable to alter your diet to exclude possible headache triggers. Some of the most common trigger foods are coffee, chocolate and alcoholic products.5
  • Stay hydrated — High blood sugar can cause you to lose fluids at a faster rate. When your body starts becoming dehydrated, this can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches. It's important that you have a steady supply of water to replenish the fluids you've lost.

Headaches may also be hinting at other serious complications, such as a diabetic coma. It would be best to consult your doctor immediately if your headaches are becoming more frequent and if they are accompanied by nausea and disorientation.6

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