Why Do I Have Headache After Eating?

Experiencing a headache after eating a meal is a condition that many people complain of. There are various causes for such a headache and they all differ according to the intensity and the frequency. Once the cause of such headaches has been determined, it can be treated with the right care and medications. Let's go over each of the causes that contribute to a headache after meal and then the methods of coping with such a condition.

Causes of Headache After Eating

1. Allergic Reaction

The first thing you should check is whether or not your headaches are indications of allergic reactions to certain ingredients in the food you are eating. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system considers something you consume a threat, and then acts accordingly to neutralize that threat. There are certain other symptoms that may be accompanying your headaches after eating if you are indeed allergic to certain food items. These symptoms include swelling on the face, hives, itching, wheezing, abdominal pain, lightheadedness and a runny nose. In this case, you should get yourself tested to determine the allergen and eliminate it from your diet.

2. Migraine

Migraines fall under the category of more severe headaches and a number of people suffer from chronic migraine. To tell whether or not you are suffering from a migraine, observe the sensation of pain you feel. If what you feel is an intense throbbing, it is likely you are suffering from migraine. This is a condition that can be triggered by certain foods, such as tyramine-containing yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream and blue cheese. Keep track of the foods you eat that trigger your migraines. A migraine’s symptoms also include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and lightheadedness.

3. High Blood Pressure

Observe the level of spices in the foods you eat that cause headache after eating. If there is too much salt in your foods, it is likely that your blood pressure shoots up after consumption. Check your blood pressure after every meal. If high blood pressure is indeed the cause, you may be advised to limit the salt content in your food.

4. Changes in Blood Glucose Levels

Sometimes the headache you suffer after eating may be attributed to fluctuations in your blood glucose levels. Some people suffer from low blood sugar and therefore experience headaches after consuming foods high in sugar. The sugar prompts the body to produce too much insulin to lower the glucose level. The sudden drop of blood sugar level affects the brain and leads to headaches.

5. Food Additives

Some of the additives being added to food items may be the cause of your post-meal headaches. If this is true, it is likely that you experience these headaches right after eating sweets and other products that contain tyramine.

6. Brain Freeze

A brain freeze is a momentary headache and the sharp pain you feel usually recedes within a minute. A brain freeze occurs when you are consuming cold foods or drinking something very cold. Immediately after ingesting these items, the blood circulation is cooled down and leads to a short painful bout in your head.

7. Medical Conditions

Sometimes the cause of your headache after eating may be something more serious. In this case, you will need to see a doctor to determine the issue and the course of treatment. For example, you may be diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia in which the headache you suffer after eating may be in addition to pain in the eye. You are likely to experience such headaches if you are suffering from diabetes. In worst-case scenarios, you may be diagnosed with a tumor in your brain that will be causing the pain.

How to Cope with a Headache After Eating

1. Gently Massage

If you suffer from a migraine in particular, massaging can be a good source of relief. Locate the optical nerve and gently massage the back of the head and the base of the skull.

2. Meditate

Sit in a quiet, well-lit room by yourself and just breathe in and out for five minutes at least. This can help normalize your blood pressure.

3. Apply a Cold Compress

You may also apply a cold compress to the affected area of your head, usually the temple. This is particularly useful if you experience a throbbing headache.

4. Take Aspirin

Aspirin is extremely useful against headaches. This is because it regulates the blood flow while also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

5. Try Lavender Oil

The calming effect of the lavender oil may help you relive the headache. You can either put several drops of lavender oil into the boiling water and inhale the steam or directly apply the oil onto your temples.

When to See a Doctor

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience the following circumstances:

  • You headache can't be relieved by the home remedies and even the pain killers can't help with your condition.
  • Your headache is severe and getting worse. The pain prevents you from performing your daily activities.
  • You also experience other symptoms together with your headache: numbness, changes in vision and speech, muscle weakness, etc.
  • You have just experienced an injury to your head, such as in a car crash or sport game.

What Do Other People Say About Headache After Eating?

I have been experiencing these headaches for two years. After a process of elimination, I was able to point out some chocolates as the main causes, so I eliminated them from the diet. Still, the headaches persisted, so I also eliminated cornstarch and modified food starch. The headaches were reduced though not eliminated. Now, I have realized that the amount of starchy foods I eat can be a factor as well, so I limit my servings of foods such as potatoes as well.

I started getting a headache after eating sugar when I was 18. Soon after, my intolerance to sugar increased to such a high level that now I cannot consume any kinds of carbohydrates, as well as wheat flour and fruits. 

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