If any individual has diabetes, his or her system’s ability and efficiency to produce and/or utilize insulin being secreted by the pancreas will certainly be impaired. This type of an impairment prevents apt regulation of blood glucose level as well as generation of energy. It has been seen that, in Type 1 diabetes mellitus, the islets of Langerhans (in the pancreas) do not produce enough insulin. With lowered level of insulin, the sugar level in the blood exceeds the normal range.
This surge in blood glucose is unhealthy and leads to several symptoms, such as that of physical exhaustion, retinopathy related pain, neuropathy and frequent episodes of headaches. People living with both, Type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, are at a greater risk of experiencing headaches as compared to the general, unaffected population. The content of this article discusses the possible causes that may trigger headaches in diabetic individuals.
Important Causes of Diabetes and Headaches
Elevated Blood Sugar Level
One of the hallmark features of diabetes is the raised blood sugar level, which is medically termed as hyperglycemia. A hyperglycemic state arises either because of dearth in production of pancreatic insulin or development of cell resistance towards the action of insulin.
As a result of hyperglycemia, headache, either alone or in conjunction with other symptoms, such as mental confusion, blurring of vision and fatigue may be experienced. It has been observed that whenever the glucose level in blood exceeds the normal range, the affected individual is most likely to complain of headache.
Exceedingly Low Level of Blood Sugar and Headache
Hypoglycemia occurs when the level of blood glucose drops below the lower limit of the normal range (which is 70-110 mg/dl) or the availability of the same for the purpose of cellular energy production is too little. In most of the cases, this state may occur if the patient fails to stick to his or her scheduled insulin therapy, and unintentionally end up taking an excess dose of insulin.
According to the information provided by the American Heart Association, this state is characterized by initial signs of headache. Such type of headache has a dull nature and is accompanied by other symptoms, such as increased perspiration, feelings of dizziness, muscle tremor as well as mental clouding.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes (particularly Type 2), there stands a grave possibility that you may develop an eye complication known as glaucoma. This happens due to damage caused to the optic nerve by the high blood sugar level. It is a known fact that glaucoma is often linked with an elevated pressure within the eye, which gives rise to clinical features of not just pain in the eye, but also headaches.
The nature of such headaches has been often described as sharp and stabbing in areas both, above and behind the eye. This may be accompanied by other symptoms of nausea and/or vomiting.
Many a time, the metabolic disorder of diabetes leads to nerve damage and irritation (known as peripheral neuropathy). This is caused by the spike in the amount of sugar present in the bloodstream. Due to neuropathy, intense, pounding headaches may be experienced by the affected patient. In fact, a book titled ‘Journal Of Royal Society of Medicine’ describes a few cases in which headaches induced by diabetic neuropathy mimicked migraines and were quite severe.