Relieving headaches with diabetes

Headaches may be one of the most common sources of pain, but for individuals with diabetes, addressing headaches takes on a whole new meaning.

With diabetes, knowing the potential cause of your headaches is crucial, as they could stem from either high or low blood sugar. Steps to relieving them, therefore, depend on what is triggering them in the first place.

Hypoglycemia Headaches

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can cause sudden headaches. You may also experience other symptoms of hypoglycemia, like dizziness or nausea, which can make the headache symptoms worse.

To relieve headaches caused by low blood sugar, it's important to raise your glucose levels in whatever manner you normally do – through eating some simple carbohydrates or taking glucose tablets.

With the stabilization of your blood sugar, your headache will probably subside, however you may still need to take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Hyperglycemia Headaches

Unlike sudden headaches that are triggered by low blood sugar, headaches related to high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, often come on slowly and worsen in severity as time passes.

High blood sugar can also cause blurry vision and fatigue, which you may attribute to the headache rather than the hyperglycemia itself.

As is the case with low blood sugar, getting your high blood sugar back down to safe levels should relieve the headache.

General Tips for Relieving Headaches

People with diabetes may experience more headaches than individuals without the condition, but certain lifestyle changes – along with good blood sugar management – can help you prevent them:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid sulfates, which are found in foods that are smoked, pickled or dried.
  • Limit caffeine intake.
  • Have your vision checked to rule out diabetic retinopathy or changes in your eyesight that might be causing headaches.
  • Get enough sleep and eliminate stressors from your life.

It's important to note that if you have persistent headaches, headaches that become worse with blood sugar fluctuations, or vision problems with headaches, it's critical to see your doctor to rule out more serious complications.

Sources: Healthline, Prevention

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