ZocdocAnswersWhy does sugar give me migraines in the morning?

Question

Why does sugar give me migraines in the morning?

I am male, 32 years old, and have always suffered from occasional migraines, both common and classic. Recently I think I have narrowed down the main causes of them to sugar - eating anything sugary, like dessert or chocolate in the evenings and then sleeping on it seems to cause a kind of hangover. I wake up groggy-headed, or with a headache, and then no matter what I eat or drink during the day that will turn into a full common migraine, complete with digestive/bowel disruption. Eating sugary food earlier in the day does not seem to have the same affect, I suppose because there is less of a gap before I eat again so the blood sugar level doesn't dip as far.

Answer

Migraine is a very common type of headache in otherwise healthy people. It classically is characterized by pounding or pulsing pain on one side of the head, often with visual disturbances, nausea, or dizziness. However there are many variants and some are not so classic as this description. What you are describing, namely the association between developing the migraine headache and eating sugar, is a very common phenomenon. Many people find that they have food triggers for their migraines. These triggers vary considerably from person to person but some of the most common include refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and certain processed foods. In some ways, it is really good news that you have discovered this because it means that you can likely control your migraines significantly simply by changing your diet to eliminate the foods that cause the headache. Other things that can help a lot with controlling migraines include making sure you get plenty of exercise, stay well hydrated, and have a regular sleep schedule. Of course, there are also many medications that can help with migraine. These include medications to prevent the migraines and medications to treat them. I suggest that you talk to your primary care doctor to see if a medication is needed.

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