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Are Headaches A Sign Of Diabetes


Reduce The Frequency Of Your Low Blood Sugars

Prediabetes and Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes Patient Module

For people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who take insulin and other medications that lower blood sugar levels, low blood sugars are something well always have to deal with.

First of all, make sure you are treating low blood sugars with fast-acting carbohydrate food items that dont contain a great deal of protein or fat. The protein and fat slow down the digestion and absorption of the glucose, which means your blood sugar will drop further and stay low longer.

Regardless, if lows are happening frequently, that means your medications are definitely in need of some fine-tuning.

For patients with type 2 diabetes, its not uncommon for doctors to prescribe a set insulin dose for all your meals without teaching you how to count carbohydrates and make sure your insulin matches what youre eating.


For anyone taking insulin, remember that our insulin needs change throughout our life. If you lose 10 pounds or suddenly stop eating dessert, your insulin needs may decrease. If you dont adjust your doses, youll start experiencing a lot of low blood sugars!

And exercise which can be incredibly challenging if you take insulin has plenty of logic to learn around it, too. Dont accept frequent hypoglycemia as an inevitable part of exercising with diabetes. You can prevent those lows by learning more about how different types of exercise impact your blood sugars.

If Your Headaches Are Unrelated To Your Diabetes

And of course, if your headaches persist to an unmanageable levelyou may be suffering from migraines which is really a different beast than your basic headache. Theres also a slew of other diagnosable health conditions unrelated to diabetes that can result in a headache.

Dont hesitate to contact your healthcare team if you think your headaches have become severe or are actually migraines.

When Should I Seek Immediate Care

  • Your heartbeat is fast and weak, or your breathing is fast and shallow.
  • You are more sleepy than usual or become confused.
  • You have blurred or double vision.
  • Your breath has a fruity, sweet smell.
  • You are shaking or sweating.
  • Your blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL or above 250 mg/dL and does not improve with treatment.
  • You have a headache, or you are dizzy.

Read Also: What Happens If You Stop Taking Diabetes Medication


When Do People First Experience Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes

The majority of people with T1D first experience symptoms in childhood, typically between the ages of 4 and 14. A small number, however, develop symptoms in infancy or toddlerhood.

An even smaller subset of people with type 1 diabetes will be diagnosed as adults, after the age of 20. The onset of type 1 diabetes is slower in adults, so they might experience mild symptoms for a longer period of time before diagnosis than children typically do.

Type 1 diabetes symptoms in children look similar to the symptoms in toddlers and babies, with a few notable differences. Mood swings and irritability, for example, can affect anyone with T1D, but this common symptom might be mistaken for an ordinary temper tantrum in preverbal toddlers, or as colic in younger babies.

Type 1 diabetes symptoms in babies and toddlers include weight loss and stunted growth a condition known as failure to thrive which is rare in adults. Failure to thrive might be the only noticeable symptom of T1D in a baby or toddler, since older children can clue parents in to symptoms such as increased urination or blurred vision.

One important thing we need to point out is that type 1 diabetes is often associated with children, but it happens to adults as well, Dr. Christofides says. Adult-onset, or late-onset type 1 diabetes symptoms look slightly different and can be harder to recognize and diagnose as a result.


How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy

Can You Get Headaches From Diabetes

Follow these steps:

  • Put the person in the recovery position and do not put anything in their mouth so they do not choke.
  • If an injection of glucagon is available and you know how to use it, give it to them immediately.
  • If they wake up within 10 minutes of getting the injection and feel better, move on to step 5. If they do not improve within 10 minutes, call 999 for an ambulance.
  • If they’re fully awake and able to eat and drink safely, give them a carbohydrate snack.
  • They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.

    Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.

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    Heart Conditions Which Cause Dizziness

    The heart is an electrical pump and for it to work, the electrical conduction system must be operating properly to stimulate the heart muscle to squeeze in a coordinated fashion and pump blood to the body. The heart muscle itself must be strong enough to pump blood, and the valves in the heart must work properly to allow blood to flow in the direction intended during contraction.


    • Conduction disturbances: Electrical conduction disturbances may make the heart beat too quickly or too slowly , and either of these situations may result in an inadequate blood supply to the brain, causing dizziness or lightheadedness.
    • Cardiomyopathy: Dizziness is also a symptom of cardiomyopathy , a disease of the heart muscle, resulting in muscle that doesn’t squeeze effectively. Most commonly the weakness is due to atheroscleroticheart disease or ischemic cardiomyopathy , in which the heart muscle itself doesn’t get enough blood supply to work properly. Other non-ischemic cardiomyopathies may be due to diabetes, alcohol use, and viral infections.

    Darker Area Of Skin That Feels Like Velvet

    A dark patch of velvety skin on the back of your neck, armpit, groin, or elsewhere could mean that you have too much insulin in your blood. This is often a sign of prediabetes.The medical name for this skin condition is acanthosis nigricans.

    Acanthosis Nigricans

    Often causing darker skin in the creases of the neck, AN may be the first sign that someone has diabetes.

    Take action
    • Get tested for diabetes

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    Continuous Glucose Monitoring Treatment

    Another device that measures glucose is termed a continuous glucose monitoring system . This system consists of a tiny sensor under the skin to check blood sugar levels. It sends the information to a device that records an average glucose value every five minutes for several days, depending on the sensor design. CGM is now accepted for long term use in some people with models that turn off insulin infusion when sugars start to drop. Some devices alert you if the blood glucose level falls outside of preset range.

    A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving

    11 Signs You Have High Blood Sugar (Diabetes Symptoms)

    You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.


    You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.

    For more information, see:

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    What Causes Type 1 Diabetes

    When the body’s immune system destroys beta cells in part of the pancreas, type 1 diabetes develops. Beta cells in the pancreas produce insulin. Researchers are not sure why a person’s immune system attacks its own insulin-producing cells. However, researchers and clinicians suspect that genetic susceptibility and environmental factors raise the risk for developing type 1 diabetes.

    Scientists have identified genes and gene regions that raise the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but they are not the only factors that cause the disease. Researchers suggest that environmental triggers such as a viral infection or perhaps dietary or pregnancy-related factors may also play a role in developing type 1 diabetes.


    How To Treat Sugar Headaches

    If you have a headache and you suspect it is from high blood sugar levels, make sure you are hydrated, says Barnathan. Your headache may be partly from the dehydration caused by hyperglycemia. You can also take an over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve your headache.

    If your headache is a result of hypoglycemia, it is usually because you haven’t eaten, so eating a healthy meal will help. For example, eating small meals throughout the day full of whole grains, fiber, and lean protein can help avoid hypoglycemia.

    If you have diabetes, make sure you always have a fast-acting carbohydrate with you, like juice or glucose tablets. These carbs can be quickly broken down into sugar, so you can raise your blood sugar fast before it drops dangerously low.

    If you don’t have diabetes, but recently cut sugar out of your diet and are experiencing headaches, make sure your body has complex carbs to break down for energy. That will help avoid ketosis and the accompanying headaches. Complex carbs include:

    • Whole grains like oatmeal or bread
    • Vegetables like peas
    • Legumes like beans

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    What Does Insulin Do

    Insulin is a hormone from the pancreas that allows sugar to enter the cells. Insulin also lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Without insulin, sugar is unable to enter the cells. This means that cells that make up muscles and other tissues will not be able to receive their main source of energy. People with type 1 diabetes may have a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream, causing life-threatening conditions.

    Insulin Side Effects

    • Weight gain when you first start using insulin
    • Lumps, scars, or rash at injection site

    First Up How To Tell If Its A Diabetes

    High Blood Sugar Symptoms Headache

    When youre not staying on top of your diabetes, it can cause your blood sugar to drop too low or climb too high. Both of these problems are triggers for headaches. Having a headache itself isnt harmful, but it could be a sign that your blood sugar isnt where it should be.

    How exactly do blood sugar levels lead to head pain, though? Lets take a closer look at the culprits.

    Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, happens when your blood glucose levels drop below where they need to be. It can happen if you skip a meal or if you inject too much insulin.

    Its also possible for your blood glucose to dip if you eat something with too many carbs, since the sudden spike in blood sugar can lead to an unhealthy drop after the body tries to compensate.


    Usually hypoglycemia-related headaches come on quickly as your blood sugar takes a nosedive. Basically, the brain needs a steady supply of glucose to function. If you dont have enough glucose in your bloodstream to give the brain what it needs, you can end up with a throbbing headache.

    High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, may occur when your blood glucose levels get too high usually at least over 180 mg/dL or 10 mmol/L.

    If you have diabetes and are insulin-resistant or arent producing or injecting enough insulin, the glucose from your food cant be absorbed by your cells for energy. That causes the glucose to build up in your bloodstream, which then leads to high blood sugar.

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    How Does Hyperglycemia Cause Headaches

    As noted above, hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, can cause headaches. People who have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes or who struggle to manage their blood sugar levels can commonly experience hyperglycemia, which can be dangerous if not addressed.


    High blood sugar commonly occurs when an individual does not have enough insulin in their system to cover the carbohydrates eaten to keep their blood sugar normalized. When blood sugar levels are too high, damage to the blood vessels and nerves can occur. If the body is unable to use the glucose in the blood for energy, it starts to burn fat instead, which can cause a buildup of waste products called ketones. This buildup can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, which can warrant a trip to the emergency room.

    Most people do not experience symptoms of hyperglycemia until their blood sugar is over 200 mg/dL, and symptoms, including headaches, may be slow to appear.

    Headaches can take several days to develop and are considered a sign of hyperglycemia. If you are experiencing a headache caused by hyperglycemia, it may be a signal that your blood sugar levels are too high.

    Other symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

    • Blurred vision

    • Slow healing wounds

    Is Diabetes To Blame For Your Headaches

    An occasional headache once every couple of months isnt a big deal. But regular headaches are likely related to something more significant.


    If you live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, those headaches could be directly related to your blood sugars. Which means you might even be able to prevent them from occurring or reduce how often they occur!

    In this article, well look at how and why diabetes can lead to recurring headaches, and what you can do to reduce the frequency of diabetes headaches or prevent them altogether.

  • Drink more water!
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    Treating Headaches From Hypoglycemia

    The first step in treating a hypoglycemia-induced headache is to confirm that the pain is occurring due to low blood glucose. A blood glucose test can verify this issue.

    Taking a blood glucose test is especially important for people with diabetes who wake up with a headache in the morning, as it can be a sign of nocturnal hypoglycemia.


    The ADA recommend that people with low blood sugar consume 15 grams of simple carbohydrates or glucose before rechecking levels after 15 minutes.

    Once blood sugar returns to the target range, the headache pain should reduce.

    Why Might Diabetes Cause Headaches

    12 Unusual Symptoms Of Diabetes

    Having diabetes doesnt necessarily mean that youll automatically have headaches. However, diabetes headaches tend to occur due to changes in blood sugar levels. In fact, a headache is a sign that your blood sugar may be outside of its target range. The more up and down your blood sugars are, the more likely you could get a headache. Once your blood sugars are back in range, your headache will subside.

    Its likely that fluctuations in blood sugar trigger headaches due to the response of blood vessels in the brain to hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. In other words, those blood sugar ups and downs trigger headaches stemming from hormone changes

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    Frequent Urination Could Be Related To Diabetes

    When there is excess glucose present in the blood, as with type 2 diabetes, the kidneys are not able to handle all of it and have to flush some out of the blood and into the urine, Ovalle says. This results in more urine production and increased urinary frequency and urgency, called polyuria. Some people may notice they have to get up every couple of hours during the night to urinate and that they produce more urine when they do go.

    The presence of excess glucose can also cause the urine to have a sweet smell. This is most common in advanced cases of type 2 diabetes, he says.

    What Is The Difference Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes usually starts in childhood or young adulthood, whereas type 2 diabetes usually starts in adulthood. In people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic cells that produce insulin. In people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is not attacked and usually produces insulin. However, people with type 2 diabetes, for numerous reasons, cannot use the available insulin effectively.

    People with type 2 diabetes can have the same symptoms as those with type 1 diabetes, however, people with type 1 diabetes usually have symptoms that occur more rapidly. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle.

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    A Low Blood Sugar Level Without Diabetes

    A low blood sugar level is uncommon in people who do not have diabetes.

    Possible causes include:

    • a gastric bypass
    • other medical conditions, such as problems with your hormone levels, pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands or heart
    • some medicines, including quinine

    See a GP if you think you keep getting symptoms of a low blood sugar level. They can arrange some simple tests to check if your blood sugar level is low and try to find out what’s causing it.

    How Is Gdm Diagnosed

    Diabetes Mellitus

    An oral glucose tolerance test is usually done between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may order either a 1-step or 2-step OGTT.

    • 1-step OGTT: Your blood sugar level will be tested after you have not eaten for 8 hours . You will then be given a glucose drink. Your level will be tested again 1 hour and 2 hours after you finish the drink.
    • 2-step OGTT: You do not have to fast for the first part of the test. You will have the glucose drink at any time of day. Your blood sugar level will be checked 1 hour later. If your blood sugar is higher than a certain level, another test will be ordered. You will fast and your blood sugar level will be tested. You will have the glucose drink. Your blood will be tested again 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours after you finish the glucose drink.

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    Diabetic Headache: Treatment & Conclusion

    Now that you know what a diabetic headache feels like, you should remember that the best way to treat a diabetic headache is to control the diabetes in the first place. Other treatment options such as right medications, stress reduction via yoga, Pranayama and dietary changes can also help control the diabetic headache to a large extent. Also, natural remedies such as rubbing natural oils on your temple and forehead, butterbur extract, increased amount of magnesium and drinking chamomile tea for relief can also help control diabetic headache to a large extent.

    However, if your headache persists and remains severe even after correcting the high or low blood glucose levels then it is imperative to visit your doctor at the earliest and consult him for the same.

    Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: July 8, 2017

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