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Medical Offices of Manhattan

Medical Offices of Manhattan’s Internist, Anisha Patel, MD, speaks to about Sugar-Related Headaches Are Real — Here’s How It Happens.

Can too much sugar, or not enough sugar, cause headaches?

Both too much sugar and not enough sugar can cause headaches.

Dr. Patel was quoted as saying:
“Sugar-related headaches come from a rapid swing in your blood sugar level. So it’s not actually the sugar itself that causes the headache, but the quick change in consumption. Glucose level fluctuations affect your brain more than any other organ.”

Sugar causes hormonal changes, specifically with epinephrine and norepinephrine. Those shifts change blood vessel behavior in the brain, causing a headache.

Would a headache out of the result from not enough or too much sugar be considered a secondary headache?

Sugar-related headaches are only secondary if they’re the result of a condition like diabetes. It’s normal for someone without a medical condition to experience a headache if they’ve simply overindulged in sugar or have gone too long without eating.

Can you explain hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia and their relationship with headaches? How does someone know they have this condition? Is it a temporary condition or do you always have it?

Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia aren’t diseases themselves, but rather symptoms, or indicators of a health problem.

Dr. Patel was quoted as saying:
“Hyperglycemia occurs when the body is not producing or using enough insulin, the hormone that absorbs glucose into cells to be used for energy.”

Again, this is typical in diabetics. Hypoglycemia is caused by very low blood glucose and is often associated with diabetes treatment. It can also very rarely be a side effect of medication, alcohol consumption, severe liver illnesses or hormone deficiencies.

Is sugar linked to migraines? If so, can you explain a little more..

People who are prone to migraines are more likely to suffer more severe headaches associated with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, but an excess or deficiency in blood glucose alone won’t typically cause a migraine in someone who has never had one.

Is it rare to get a headache after eating a ton of sweets?

Sugar-heavy foods or heavily processed foods have been known to cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can cause headaches. Sugar-related headaches are not uncommon.

If you do have a headache in relation to sugar (lack thereof or too much) what suggestions do you have for relief?

If you’re experiencing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels, and it’s not related to an illness like diabetes, symptoms can be treated by consuming 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates, or cabs easily converted sugar like gel, juice, soft drinks and sugary candy.

Dr. Patel was quoted as saying:
“Hypoglycemic attacks mostly occur in diabetics. If you think you’re experiencing a hypoglycemic attack, you should go to the doctor immediately. Those with diabetes or hormone deficiencies should consult their physicians about long-term symptom relief plans, which generally include a structured diet.”

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