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Why Does Hunger Cause Headache? Causes, Symptoms And Tips To Prevent Hunger Headache

Headache is one of the common health issues, which can be due to serious underlying conditions such as migraine or due to a very simple cause i.e hunger. Hunger headache occurs mainly when you skip meals, particularly breakfast, and did not eat enough food for a long time.

According to a study, hunger is responsible for 31.03 per cent and skipping meals is for 29.31 per cent of headaches in individuals compared to other factors such as intense emotions, fatigue, weather changes, menstruation, travelling, noises and sleep hours. [1]

In this article, we will discuss hunger headache in details. Take a look.

Causes Of Hunger Headache

Factors like dehydration, lack of food and lack of caffeine cause low glucose levels in the body which may trigger a headache. This happens when the brain senses low glucose levels and releases certain hormones like glucagon, cortisol and adrenaline to recover from hypoglycemia or low glucose levels. [2]

As a side effect of these hormones, a headache occurs along with a feeling of fatigue, dullness or nausea. Also, dehydration, lack of caffeine and lack of food cause brain tissues to tighten thus, activating the pain receptors to cause a headache.

To mention, the intensity of headache increases in people who have stress or diabetes. A study says that headache worsens by 93 per cent in people who have stress compared to 58 per cent in people who do not have stress. Hunger and stress can also proceed to trigger a migraine or tension-type headache attacks. [3]

Symptoms Of Hunger Headache

The symptoms of hunger headache are characterised by the feeling of pressure on the sides and forehead along with tension on the shoulders and the neck. Apart from these, other symptoms that follow hunger headache include the following:

  • Stomach growling or rumbling
  • Fatigue
  • Shivering of hand
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Sensation of cold

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Can Gastrointestinal Problems Cause Headache?

According to a study, primary headaches can be due to some gastrointestinal disorders and treating these problems can be a major resolution for headache. Some of the gastrointestinal problems linked to primary headaches include gastro oesophagal reflux disease (GERD), constipation, dyspepsia, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), functional abdominal pain, celiac disease, and H. Pylori infection.

Experts suggest that management of these diseases can cure or relieve headache arising from the disorders and also improve the quality of life.

Tips To Prevent Hunger Headache

  • Eat healthy foods on time.
  • Avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast.
  • Eat smaller meals at regular intervals if your profession involves a very busy schedule.
  • Always keep energy bars or whole-grain bars handy.
  • Avoid sugary chocolates or sweetened juices as they may cause a sudden spike in glucose levels and increase the risk of diabetes.
  • Drink a lot of water to maintain hunger pangs.
  • Always carry a whole fruit such as apple or oranges and a box of nuts.
  • You can opt for yoghurt or unsweetened fruit juices.
  • If your headache is due to withdrawal from caffeine, instead of stopping the intake completely, first reduce the quantity and then stop it entirely.

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To Conclude

Hunger headache is common when you are empty-stomach and usually go when you consume food. But that does not mean that one should delay with their meal timings as regular headache due to hunger can also proceed to some problems such as gastric or heartburn.

Also, if you observe regular episodes of a headache without hunger, it can be the cause of some other underlying conditions which need immediate medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Story first published: Thursday, December 24, 2020, 18:36 [IST]
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