A hunger headache causes dull pain that happens when you’re hungry. The pain goes away shortly after eating. But you can take steps to avoid these headaches, even if you can’t eat for long periods of time.
This type of headache happens when you’re hungry. You’re more likely to experience hunger headaches when there are long periods of time between meals. They can also happen when you’re not eating enough.
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Headaches when you’re hungry are a signal that you need more calories. You may experience:
Hunger and low blood sugar headaches can have many causes, including:
Most people experience pain toward the front of their heads that may extend to both sides. You may also have:
With low blood sugar headaches, you may also experience:
You can diagnose it yourself by listening to your body. If you’re experiencing dull head pain and it’s been a while since you’ve eaten, it’s probably a hunger headache.
Treatment includes eating something. The best option is a balanced meal with foods full of vitamins and nutrients and plenty of water. If you’re short on time, a healthy snack can help.
Once your body starts digesting food, you should start feeling better. Hunger headaches typically go away within 30 minutes of eating.
If you don’t feel better after eating, an over-the-counter pain reliever can help.
You can lower your risk of hunger and low blood sugar headaches by:
The issue might not be when you’re eating, but what you’re eating. Certain foods are more likely to cause headaches, including:
Your diet should include:
Getting headaches when you’re hungry can be bothersome. But they don’t affect your health. Some headaches and symptoms can be a sign of a medical issue, though.
You may want to see your healthcare provider for mild headaches that:
Important: Severe headaches that come on quickly may be a sign of a stroke. Seek immediate care if you experience a sudden and severe headache along with other symptoms, such as:
Your body is sensitive to changes in eating habits. When you’re dieting, it’s natural to feel hungry. But when hunger pangs come with head pain, try eating a little more. You might not lose weight as fast, but it’ll spare you the discomfort of regular headaches.
Fasting headaches are common. You can lower your risk by planning ahead.
A few days before the fast:
The meal before the fast:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hunger headaches are your body’s way of signaling that you need calories. They don’t go away on their own. The best treatment is eating a balanced meal with protein, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. Most people don’t need to see their healthcare provider for a hunger headache. You may need care if your symptoms are severe or don’t respond to pain relievers, though.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/18/2022.
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