Medically reviewed by Spandana Nagulapally, Masters in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics
We often blame skipping meals, particularly breakfast, to our oh-so-ever hectic schedules and fast-paced lifestyle.
What we often tend to forget are the repercussions of skipping meals on our body, hunger headache being one of the key side effects.
Table of Contents
- Common causes of a hunger headache
- Symptoms of a hunger headache
- How to prevent a hunger headache?
- Tips to get rid of hunger headaches
- 5 Simple hacks to avoid a hunger headache
Like any other machinery that needs regular fuelling and oiling for it to function properly, our body is one such machine that needs regular and more importantly, timely fuelling in the form of nutrients.
This article aims at bringing to you the reasons behind occurring of a hunger headache and how to avoid it.
Common causes of a hunger headache
It is really not easy to understand the human body as it is possibly the most complex machinery that exists on the face of this earth.
Likewise, headaches occur commonly but there may be hundreds of causes behind it and just one of them is the hunger headache, which happens if you have been empty stomach for a long time.
While hunger headaches do not raise the red flag, it is not something you should be experiencing on a regular basis.
The main cause of hunger headache is low blood sugar level which happens when your blood sugar level drops when you are starving.
We all know that glucose serves as the energy provider for our body, even the brain. So when this energy source is depleted in our body, we start to feel sluggish, fatigued and dehydrated – which leads to a headache.
On the contrary, feeding your body with excessive sugar also can lead to headaches! Likewise, drinking too much coffee can also lead to hunger headache.
Coffee contains caffeine and excessive caffeine goes a long way in dehydrating our body causing hunger headache.
Another point to be kept in mind is that if you repeatedly take medicines for to cure your hunger headache, it may lead to recurring headaches in future.
You may also get hunger headache if you are not drinking enough water.
So make sure you stay hydrated. That is actually the first and most important step to keeping yourself healthy and glowing!
Symptoms of a hunger headache
A hunger headache or a tension headache can be identified as a pain wrapping your entire forehead.
Contraction may also be felt in the skeletal muscles of the scalp, neck and forehead.
Individuals suffering from frequent hunger headaches often describe the pain to be dulling in the beginning and becoming more severe with time.
A tension headache may left you feeling pained or pressurized on both sides of the head, gripping tightness in the forehead, pain in the back of the head, pain in the temples and neck, and tense shoulders, face or neck.
Low blood sugar may cause symptoms like sweating, weakness, fatigue, confusion, lightheadedness and shakiness.
How to prevent a hunger headache?
As they always rightly say, prevention is better than cure, you should always look out for ways to prevent hunger headaches instead of letting them occur and then finding ways to get rid of them! Reduce your chances of contracting hunger headaches by eating meals at regular intervals.
Completely avoid skipping meals and make sure your intake of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is up to the mark.
Adequate hydration of body is the key element in preventing hunger headaches. Keep sipping on water or juices through the day. Do not wait to feel thirsty before you think of drinking water.
Another important tip to follow is to limit your intake of sugar. Avoid processed food and excessive caffeine. Also keep healthy snacks like toasted nuts, salad, fruits, etc. handy and pop them as and when you feel hunger pangs setting in.
Tips to get rid of hunger headaches
The fastest and simplest way to get rid of hunger headache is to eat something and that too something nutritious.
Another reason behind hunger headache is the acidity that forms in the stomach when you skip meals. Eating reduces the acidity and subsequently, hunger headache too!
Foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates should be preferred if you have a hunger headache as these foods help in sustaining blood sugar levels for a longer time.
Make sure to eat smaller meals at regular intervals. This will help in maintaining a constant level of blood sugar through the day as opposed to fewer large meals that cause blood sugar to follow irregular spikes in the body, which causes headache.
Avoiding processed food as much as you can, can also help you get rid of your headache. Include more protein in your diet as they provide good nutrition along with filling you up sufficiently.
5 Simple hacks to avoid a hunger headache if you are fasting
Well, while eating at regular intervals during the day is ideal for the upkeep of your health, there may be occasions where you have to stay hungry and even thirsty through the day, for instance Ramadan and Karwa Chauth.
People who follow these rituals and observe fasts on these days, should follow simple eating hacks, which will keep them full and satiated devoid of any headache through the day.
- Start your day with protein-rich foods like pulses, nut and yogurt that will keep you full for a longer time as they take longer to digest, besides keeping the nutrition quotient high in your body.
- Another simple tip to follow is to consume foods rich in complex carbohydrates in the morning like cereals, fruits, rice and whole grains.
- Drink as much water as you can when you get up in the morning. Doing this will keep you well hydrated and keep you away from hunger headaches.
- Stay away from sugar coated snacks and desserts early in the morning. Avoid matthis, kheer, halwa, etc., which are usually the preferred delicacies during festive times. Avoid processed and deep fried foods as well. Eat foods that are light on stomach yet nutritious.
- Have a good night sleep before you get up for your early morning meal on the fasting day. Sleep deprivation can also lead to headaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
1] What causes headache when hungry?
Ans. The drop in blood sugar level because of lack of food in the body and dehydration are the two main causes of occurrence of headache when hungry. Acidity that is caused because of lack of food also contributes significantly to hunger headaches.
2] Can you get a migraine from hunger?
Ans. Yes, sometimes even migraine can get triggered from hunger. It is important to know that hunger headache and migraine are different from each other and migraine requires a specialized therapy.
3] Can hunger cause pregnancy headaches?
Ans. Yes, hunger can definitely trigger pregnancy headaches, although hormonal imbalances during pregnancy also cause headaches.
If you are pregnant, you should never miss a meal and in case you have, try to treat your headache by eating something before you resort to treating it by popping a painkiller. If the headache does not subside even after eating, talk to your doctor.
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