ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have severe headaches after eating certain foods?

Question

Why do I have severe headaches after eating certain foods?

I am a 22 year old female with a history of headaches after eating. The headaches were worse when I was vegetarian, but could not be linked to anyone food. I also have had fluctuating blood sugar with really high spikes at times and dangerously low drops when I am sick. The medications I use are albuterol and Errin, but I had the headaches prior to us. The problem has been occurring for two years now.

Answer

I'm so sorry to hear that you suffer from headaches. You are, however, in extremely good company, as headaches are very common, more so in young women like yourself. While it would be impossible to perfectly diagnose your condition without a physical exam and asking you some additional questions, we can address a few of the thoughts that go through a physician's head when you walk in and ask about headaches associated with foods. Know that you do need to schedule an appointment with a physician to properly care for your headache. The first thing that we worry about is whether or not this headache is anything life threatening. Do you have other symptoms (can't move, talk, smell, see, etc during the headache)? Did it just barely start? Is it the worst headache of your life? A few other questions, too, but after that part is over, we try to pigeon hole which type of headache you are having, as there are several broad classifications. Migraines often are associated with nausea, make you want to lie down in a dark room, and run in the family. Cluster headaches are usually just one side of the head/face, and often associated with a runny nose/teary eye. Tension headaches are like a band around the head. After we categorize a headache, we can do something about it. In your case, the fact that you use Errin suggests that you might not be tolerating a traditional estrogen/progestin contraceptive (although it is impossible to tell without knowing your medical history), which could be also be a clue. Your association of headaches with food, the fluctuations in your blood sugar, and the long history of headaches suggest that you should see a physician who will be able to ask the appropriate questions to be able to accurately diagnose your specific headache, and--more importantly--suggest some treatments.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.