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The Connection Between Hypoglycemia and Headaches

Woman with hypoglycemia testing her blood sugar

Hypoglycemia is a condition marked by low blood sugar in the body, which is significant because the brain needs a constant supply of glucose to function properly. When glucose levels drop, the brain is among the first organs affected.

Common symptoms of hypoglycemia are weakness, lightheadedness, sweating, and a shift in one’s level of consciousness. But what many people don’t realize is that hypoglycemia can actually be responsible for triggering headaches too. This is because a lack of glucose in the brain can cause severe pain and pressure.

This article will explore the connection between hypoglycemia and headaches, as well as lifestyle habits that trigger the onset of these conditions.

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Causes of Hypoglycemia

There are many different causes of hypoglycemia because various factors affect blood sugar production, regulation, absorption, and storage in the body. For example, certain medications that are used to treat diabetes can result in low blood sugar. For individuals who do not have diabetes, hypoglycemia can be caused by other types of medications, such as those used to treat kidney failure and malaria.

Liver, kidney, and anorexia nervosa are all illnesses that can lead to hypoglycemic symptoms as well. Hormone deficiencies and excessive alcohol consumption may play a role as well in some individuals. Finally, diet plays a significant role in the way the human body processes sugars. Therefore, it is important to eat enough calories per day to keep blood sugar at a healthy level.

Habits That Make Hypoglycemia Worse

Bad eating habits can make an existing condition of hypoglycemia worse, such as excessive dieting, fasting, skipping meals, and exercising on an empty stomach. Interestingly, eating meals with too much sugar can actually trigger hypoglycemia as well. This is because a sudden spike in blood sugar triggers an overproduction of insulin, which makes blood glucose levels drop. Also, diabetics who take in too much insulin through injection therapy can cause their blood sugar levels to drop too low.

Why Hypoglycemia Causes Headaches

Low blood glucose levels often cause headaches because of delayed, irregular, and unhealthy meals. These types of headaches can be accompanied by nausea, blurred vision, irritability, confusion, and fatigue. Early warning signs to watch for include sweating, mood changes, yawning, and craving sweet foods.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Hypoglycemia

The best way to prevent hypoglycemia-related headaches is to prevent the body’s blood sugar from falling. Individuals who have experienced the symptoms noted in this article or who eat meals irregularly should consult a doctor to have a prolonged glucose tolerance test conducted. This is a test that checks blood glucose levels over several hours. Alternatively, a simple blood test taken when one is symptomatic can reveal the body’s glucose level at that time.

To prevent hypoglycemic symptoms, doctors frequently recommend eating approximately six small meals per day to keep blood sugar levels stable. Eating a small high-fiber meal before bed can help reduce the risk of a hypoglycemic headache in the morning. A balanced diet with unrefined fresh foods and fruits and vegetables is advisable over diets with sugar-filled foods like cakes, crackers, and ice cream. Stress, alcohol and caffeine should also be avoided to prevent hypoglycemic headaches.

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