Symptoms triggered by hunger?

Okay, I started on a diet a few months ago and I’ve been having a lot more headaches. Headaches are a generalized “tension type” headache, but the general feeling of dizziness definitely gets worse when I have one as well as light and sound sensitivity so I suppose a neurologist would class them as migraine. Anyway, I finally made the connection - I’m get “headachy” whenever I get hungry - even a little bit hungry. I’ve tested this multiple times now and it occurs consistently. Interesting thing is that once I get “headachy” just eating something doesn’t seem to reverse it. The only things that make me feel any better is sleep or fairly intense exercise (ie 20 minute run). I’ve started wondering if low blood sugar could be triggering the migraine. Anyone else experience anything like this?

Hunger is one of my biggest triggers. And like you, eating something doesn’t make the resulting headache, dizziness and brain fog just go away. It seems like you just can’t let yourself get to the point of being that hungry.

Hi Chaz,

Hunger is a trigger for me too. I also suspect it has something to do with blood sugar. Headaches don’t usually go away for me after I eat, but my other MAV symptoms usually improve. When I was teaching a Managerial Accounting night class last year, I would sometimes resort to drinking a Sprite before class. The sugar rush gave me some temporary clarity and energy to help me through the class. I usually stay away from sugar to avoid the highs and lows, but I was desperate. I wonder why you don’t get any relief from eating.


I have reactive hypoglycemia. Once the blood sugar falls down below your base level, your body kicks out a load of adrenaline as a safety mechanism to get it up. Thats probably what keeps you feeling rubbish. You can check out if you have reactive hypoglycemia with a blood sugar monitor from the chemist. Check your base level first thing in the morning having not eaten or drunk. Eat breakfast, wait hr or hr and half and check bs, wait another half hr, check bs again. I found mine was dropping to below base level within an hour of eating (bad). On the glucose tolerance test at the hospital, it took a lot longer to drop, but finally shot down to 2.6. (Low bs symptoms, feeling dizzy, feint, everything sort of blacking out, sweating, shaking, hunger pangs, legs giving way, internal shivering. Sometimes you get some, sometimes all and sometimes none of these symptoms. Mornings particularly bad.

I also have jproblems with low blood sugar - I get clammy, nervous, jittery, shaky, confused, light headed etc. It actually feels a bit like some of the MAV symptoms and lately can be difficult to differentiate the two.

I think it seems quite logical that low blood sugar and/or hunger may be a migraine trigger. The fat kid in the pool as Dr Rauche might suggest.

I think in general keeping things in “balance” is good - sleep deprivation, exessive alcohol, trigger foods etc could all upset the balance and increase the likelihood of migraine. Just a thought.


Hi Victoria,

I can relate to the confusion bit, sometimes I am so desperate, I struggle to get the food from the fridge!

Have you ever had your cortisol tested. I have done the adrenal saliva test and my cortisol was below the range twice during the day and it co incided with the fatigue, sweating, dizziness and headache. Reactive hypoglycemia and low cortisol levels are often connected.

Wow - there are a lot of folks out there that seem to experience very much the same thing that I do when they get hungry. I can identify with the shaky feeling, increased dizziness, headache and the bit about being so desperate to get something to eat right NOW that I struggle to get something out of the fridge. So what (if any) strategies have you all tried to level out your blood sugar? And which ones have proved effective? I’ve tried eating more frequently, cutting carbs and cutting out high glycemic index foods. None of these things have worked very well - if I reduce my calories enough to start losing weight then I get hungry and when I get hungry I get all the MAV symptoms. Pretty frustrating 'cause they say one of the best things to do for insulin resistance is to lose weight, but it’s really tough to lose weight when even modest calorie reductions result in migraine…Thoughts…


Hi Christine and Chaz,

No I haven’t had my cortisol levels checked. I’m not exactly sure if it’s the same thing or same process of diagnosis but my father did an all day test once and was confirmed as hypoglycemic. My brother and I both get the same symptoms as him so we have assumed we have it too.

For me hunger is not a reliable warning sign. Sometimes it can just strike out of the blue and really suddenly. I’ve had it so bad I’ve felt confused, uncoordinated and panicking to get some food in straight away. When it’s that bad I need something that’s quickly absorbed but also slow release sustaining. I find milkshakes or a sandwich pretty good. I’ve learned this through trial and error - not sure if there’s any scientific basis to it. :slight_smile:

I’ve been told the only way to manage it is to eat regularly so that’s what I do - small meals or snacks every two-three hours or so, with protein. Carbs alone don’t sustain. When I used to be out on the road doing shift work I could not guarantee when, if ever, I’d get a meal break during a 12 hour shift, so I always carried food in the car. I get kind of nervous if I may be away from a food source for too long :slight_smile: . I still find some people don’t get it - they think you’re just hungry and don’t understand why you can’t wait a bit for a meal and chastise you for “spoiling your appetite”.

So in relation to MAV, again I think it’s important to not upset the equilibrium - don’t give the brain an excuse to bring on a bout of symptoms by letting the blood sugar drop.


Hi Chaz,

When you tried sticking to a low glycemic index eating pattern, can you tell me more precisely what foods you cut and which ones you stayed on? Maybe I can help give you some input on this. The GI and carb metabolism is all I studied at university for years (and still do). Hypoglycemia can be really difficult to get under control. I’m no pro on hypoglycemia but just want to make sure you got the best result you could have from using the GI. I thought I’d paste in this story we received in April 2006 – not exactly a “cure” but sounds like she was able to manage things better.

Scott 8)

[size=130]Anne’s story – battling hypoglycemia[/size]
My life has always been controlled by my hypo attacks. I never go anywhere without a ‘fix’ in my pocket, be that an apple, a packet of chocolate nuts and raisins or a carton of juice. My story starts when I was an early teenager in 1957. I would be miles from home, roaming the countryside when I would gradually develop an inability to function properly, which manifested itself in weakness, perspiration and irritability. I was fortunate if an attack took place during autumn as I could find blackberries, crab apples or sloes to eat until the feeling passed. Instead of walking home I would have to sit and wait for a bus. I began to notice a pattern to these attacks. They nearly always took place in late afternoon. I had a long way to travel to and from my school involving a long walk, a ferry trip and a train journey. At the end of the school day I couldn’t wait to get home to have something to eat. My school life was totally disrupted by these attacks and I could never stay on at school and enjoy extra curricular activities or extra study. Concentration levels were poor and my school work suffered.

I was better able to control my eating patterns once I started working. When I became a working mother, however, with two children, shopping after work, etc. I found that once again my cravings during the late afternoon were almost unbearable. I resorted to sherry as soon as I reached home and this sustained me whilst I cooked a meal and attended to the usual chores. I found that alcohol, together with assorted savoury nibbles was the answer to giving me that vital boost when I was flagging. As far as I was concerned, I was just an oddity – no one I knew could sympathise or understand my problem and probably thought I was just greedy. I never seem to reach the stage of feeling full and can just go on eating and eating. I don’t. I stop when I realise that I should have eaten a sufficient amount but I don’t feel full. I think part of the problem is that I still tend to eat a ‘traditional’ meal of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables. When I am hungry I cannot face a salad, however varied and interesting. I have found that eating a small snack every two hours or so does stop me from reaching the stage where I lose the ability to be sensible. I should add that I do not have a sweet tooth and have always eaten sensibly, except when I am experiencing a sugar ‘attack’ and then I will eat anything to hand. I have brought up the subject with various GPs over the years.

I have discovered over the years that the foods I like most are my worst enemies. These include potatoes, bread, bananas, rice and alcohol. In the last month I have stopped drinking alcohol and limited my intake of potatoes and bread. I try to eat oat bread wherever possible and am following the low glycemic principle as far as possible. I know when I have eaten the wrong thing and, instead of turning to alcohol I eat a yoghurt or some apricots until I feel comfortable again.

Hi, there! A resounding YES!! to this question. I get twice as dizzy even before I feel hungry when I haven’t eaten for a couple of hours. I thought I had low blood sugar, but I tested it with a friend’s blood sugar tester, and in reality my blood sugar is normal…even sort of high. However, when my blood sugar nears the level it is in the a.m. before eating (fasting blood sugar), I get shaky, way dizzier, depressed, etc. Dizziness almost always feels better after I eat something. Headache sometimes better, sometimes not.

Chromium helped a bit with this, as did returning to eating peanut butter/nuts/deli meats (ie eating protein along with my carbs, cutting out juice, etc; I don’t eat much plain sugar stuff anyway). I had cut these things out b/c of the migraine diet, but in truth they help me with my blood sugar & don’t trigger migraine symptoms for me. So they help a lot! Also, since I’ve been taking Prozac, my sensitivity to not eating has gotten a lot better. I just think it is raising my threshold for my migraine & dizziness symptoms.

Okay - using a drug store blood sugar monitor I checked my blood sugar first thing in the morning. Value was 80 mg/dl. Then I ate a high carb breakfast (pancakes/syrup) and after 4.5 hours I checked again. Value was 72 mg/dl - right at the bottom of the normal range. Does the fact that my blood sugar dropped signifcantly below my base line of 80 indicate reactive hypoglycemia? I’m obviously not asking for a “clinical diagnosis” here - just trying to figure out if this sounds “significantly abnormal” before I throw more money at a doctor. Any thoughts?

Hi, Chaz!

To me, this does indicate “reactive hypoglycemia,” although I don’t think medical treatment is necessary unless people get very low blood sugar. “Hypoglycemia” can just mean that you are getting symptoms when your level drops below or close to your fasting level (80-is for you?). I would say that the best treatment is following the tips listed above about eating smaller amts frequently and keeping an eye on intake of simple sugars/carbs. Look up chromium as well…it can help stabilize blood sugar. I think these things will help; they have helped me :).