When To See Your Healthcare Provider
Diabetes should always be managed by your healthcare provider to ensure your insulin levels and blood sugar are in safe range and that you’re managing your condition on properly. There may be times, however, when diabetes-related nausea and vomiting may warrant medical care, including:
- Difficulty regulating blood sugar
- Persistent fainting or loss of consciousness
- If nausea and vomiting last for days or weeks
- If nausea or vomiting is accompanied by fever, sweating, or fatigue
- You can’t keep solids or liquids down
Get Those High Blood Sugar Levels Down
High blood sugars arent random they are the what happens where theres an imbalance of any combination of food, activity, medications, stress, and hormones.
If you have type 1 diabetes and persistent high blood sugar levels, its definitely time for a tune-up of your insulin doses and how you dose insulin for the food you eat. High blood sugars in type 1 diabetes mean one very simple thing: youre not getting enough insulin. While making nutritional changes can eventually lower blood sugar levels, the most important thing right now is make sure youre getting adequate insulin.
Our insulin needs change throughout our entire life dont resist making changes with your healthcare team.
For patients with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, it can be very daunting to start a diabetes medication after your diagnosis, or if other approaches arent working. Remember, for many people with type 2, diabetes is a progressive disease which means your bodys ability to properly produce and use insulin is going to decrease over time.
Starting a diabetes medication is the most important thing you can do to not only reduce your headaches, but also to save your eyes, your kidneys, your stomach, and your feet! Dont let shame or fear of starting a medication get in the way of doing what you need to do right now to get your blood sugars down to a safer level.
No diabetes diet needs to be 100% perfect.
The Type Of Headache Matters
Although there are many different types of headaches, this article will focus on two of the most common kinds of primary headache disorders :
- Tension headaches: Affecting 38% of the population, these headaches often result from muscle tension, poor posture, and mental exertion. Even though tension headaches are the most prevalent type of headache, research remains inconclusive regarding root causes.
- Migraines: Affecting 12% of the population, these headaches are the second leading cause of disability worldwide, often causing severe throbbing pain that may be accompanied by nausea and visual impairments.
Clearly, the most important first step in treating headaches is to determine what type you have so,if you suffer repeatedly from headaches, ask your medical provider for a comprehensive analysis to determine whether you suffer from migraines , tension headaches, or one of the less common types.
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Final Tips & Takeaway
In addition to the treatment options mentioned above, people may also take over the counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, to provide short term relief from their headache symptoms. However, these painkillers will not address the underlying cause of the headache, which is likely blood sugar levels outside of the normal range.
People with diabetes can best avoid headaches by carefully monitoring their blood sugar levels, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and using medications at prescribed intervals to manage their blood sugar. Use of a diabetes wallet that contains all of the diabetes management supplies a patient requires can be useful in ensuring that patients always have access to the supplies they need in the event of high or low blood sugar levels.
For more helpful info about managing your diabetes, check out the Diathrive blog for advice, guidance, and answers from Diathrive staff and diabetes educators!
First Up How To Tell If Its A Diabetes
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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What Insulin Medications Are Approved To Treat Diabetes
There are many types of insulins for diabetes. If you need insulin, you healthcare team will discuss the different types and if they are to be combined with oral medications. To follow is a brief review of insulin types.
- Rapid-acting insulins: These insulins are taken 15 minutes before meals, they peak at one hour and work for another two to four hours. Examples include insulin glulisine , insulin lispro and insulin aspart .
- Short-acting insulins: These insulins take about 30 minutes to reach your bloodstream, reach their peak effects in two to three hours and last for three to six hours. An example is insulin regular .
- Intermediate-acting insulins: These insulins reach your bloodstream in two to four hours, peak in four to 12 hours and work for up to 18 hours. An example in NPH.
- Long-acting insulins: These insulins work to keep your blood sugar stable all day. Usually, these insulins last for about 18 hours. Examples include insulin glargine , insulin detemir and insulin degludec .
There are insulins that are a combination of different insulins. There are also insulins that are combined with a GLP-1 receptor agonist medication .
What Causes Your Diabetes Headaches
For many people, having a headache is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Headaches are extremely common, and the World Health Organization states that almost half of adults are estimated to have a headache over the course of a year. There are many different types of headaches, ranging from migraines to tension headaches to cluster headaches and even ice cream headaches that result from eating or drinking something that is extremely cold. Headaches can also occur due to sinus infections, high blood pressure, and medications. If you have diabetes, headaches are even more common. Given all of the possible causes of headaches, its not surprising that so many people suffer from them.
For those who have diabetes and find that a pounding head is more than just a passing nuisance, its time to sort out possible causes. Some of the likely culprits may be directly related to your diabetes. Lets take a look at five ways diabetes causes headaches.
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How Does Diabetes Affect Your Heart Eyes Feet Nerves And Kidneys
Blood vessels are located throughout our bodys tissues and organs. They surround our bodys cells, providing a transfer of oxygen, nutrients and other substances, using blood as the exchange vehicle. In simple terms, diabetes doesnt allow glucose to get into cells and it damages blood vessels in/near these organs and those that nourish nerves. If organs, nerves and tissues cant get the essentials they need to properly function, they can begin to fail.Proper function means that your hearts blood vessels, including arteries, are not damaged . In your kidneys, this means that waste products can be filtered out of your blood. In your eyes, this means that the blood vessels in your retina remain intact. In your feet and nerves, this means that nerves are nourished and that theres blood flow to your feet. Diabetes causes damage that prevents proper function.
Treating Headaches From Hypoglycemia
The first step in treating a hypoglycemia-induced headache is confirming that the pain is due to low blood glucose. A blood glucose test can check this.
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 American Diabetes Association recommends 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, symptoms, including headache pain, should reduce.
Also Check: Fasting Blood Glucose Normal Range
What Oral Medications Are Approved To Treat Diabetes
Over 40 medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of diabetes. Its beyond the scope of this article to review all of these drugs. Instead, well briefly review the main drug classes available, how they work and present the names of a few drugs in each class. Your healthcare team will decide if medication is right for you. If so, theyll decide which specific drug are best to treat your diabetes.
Diabetes medication drug classes include:
Many oral diabetes medications may be used in combination or with insulin to achieve the best blood glucose control. Some of the above medications are available as a combination of two medicines in a single pill. Others are available as injectable medications, for example, the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide and lixisenatide .
Always take your medicine exactly as your healthcare prescribes it. Discuss your specific questions and concerns with them.
What Should I Eat If I Ate Too Much Sugar
Eat some protein and fiber Stabilize your blood sugar by eating some slow-digesting protein and fiber. If you don’t, your blood sugar will crash and you’ll potentially feel hungry and want to eat again. Great snack options are an apple and nut butter, a hard boiled egg and pistachios, or hummus and veggies.
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Howto Avoid Sugar Highs And Lows
“There is no special diet for headaches,” Dr. Doerrler says. “You need a balanced diet. Avoid simple carbs and get some calories from fats and proteins along with vegetable, fruits and whole grains.”
- If you aredieting, lose weight slowly. Avoid crash diets.
- Eat smaller morefrequent meals instead of a few big meals.
- Don’t exercise onan empty stomach.
- Avoid drinkingalcohol on an empty stomach.
- If you feel ahunger headache coming on, have a small sugar snack, followed by a nourishing,well-balanced meal.
If you have frequent headaches and other symptoms of hypoglycemia, talk to your doctor. You can also get some advice on how to balance your diet and choose healthy carbs.
Getting Peace Of Mind: Diabetes And Headaches
When Pandora opened her box, she released, amongst other things, Algos Pain. An evil spirit, the Ancient Greeks believed that Algos was the cause of headaches.
And certainly, having a headache does feel like having an evil spirit hammering away inside your head. Ow. It hurts thinking about it.
It affects many: WHO estimates that about 50% of the worlds population will have experienced a headache within the last year.
With diabetes and headaches in particular, headaches can occur as a result of conditions associated with diabetes, including both hypo- and hyperglycemia, along with other circumstances.
Heads up: were going to turn the topic of diabetes and headaches on its head. Keep a level head by finding out why headaches happen with diabetes, and how to treat them!
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How Do I Check My Blood Glucose Level Why Is This Important
Checking your blood glucose level is important because the results help guide decisions about what to eat, your physical activity and any needed medication and insulin adjustments or additions.
The most common way to check your blood glucose level is with a blood glucose meter. With this test, you prick the side of your finger, apply the drop of blood to a test strip, insert the strip into the meter and the meter will show your glucose level at that moment in time. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often youll need to check your glucose level.
Symptoms Of A Low Blood Sugar Level
A low blood sugar level can affect everyone differently. You’ll learn how it makes you feel, although your symptoms may change over time.
Early signs of a low blood sugar level include:
- a fast or pounding heartbeat
- becoming easily irritated, tearful, anxious or moody
If a low blood sugar level is not treated, you may get other symptoms, such as:
- unusual behaviour, slurred speech or clumsiness
- seizures or fits
- collapsing or passing out
A low blood sugar level, or hypo, can also happen while you’re sleeping. This may cause you to wake up during the night or cause headaches, tiredness or damp sheets in the morning.
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How To Eat To Lower Blood Sugar
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Who Gets Diabetes What Are The Risk Factors
Factors that increase your risk differ depending on the type of diabetes you ultimately develop.
Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:
- Having a family history of Type 1 diabetes.
- Injury to the pancreas .
- Presence of autoantibodies .
- Physical stress .
- Exposure to illnesses caused by viruses.
Risk factors for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes include:
- Family history of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
- Being Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American race or Pacific Islander.
- Having overweight/obesity.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
- Family history of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
- Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian-American.
- Having overweight/obesity before your pregnancy.
- Being over 25 years of age.
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What Foods Are Good To Eat To Lower Your Blood Sugar
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What Causes Hyperglycemia In People With Diabetes
- The dose of insulin or oral diabetes medication that you are taking is not the most helpful dose for your needs.
- Your body isnt using your natural insulin effectively .
- The amount of carbohydrates you are eating or drinking is not balanced with the amount of insulin your body is able to make or the amount of insulin you inject.
- You are less active than usual.
- Physical stress is affecting you.
- Emotional stress is affecting you.
- You are taking steroids for another condition.
- The dawn phenomenon is affecting you.
Other possible causes
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