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Can Diabetes Cause Headaches and Dizziness?
Diabetes is a condition when your body cannot synthesize the sugar in the food due to inadequate or ineffective insulin. This sugar stays in the bloodstream, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. When the body tries to expel this sugar in the urine, it leads to dehydration, which is one of the main cause of headaches and dizziness in diabetes.
Table of Contents
What is Dizziness?
The term "dizziness" covers various conditions, including unsteadiness, wooziness, weakness, and faintness. Dizziness due to diabetes quite commonly occurs when blood sugar levels fluctuate in either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, though the reasons are different.
Causes of Dizziness in Diabetes
People with diabetes often have fluctuating sugar levels. This rise and fall in blood sugar levels called Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia respectively are often the main cause for dizziness and headaches.
1. Dizziness due to High Blood Sugar Levels (Hyperglycemia)
Hyperglycemia indicates a state where the blood sugar levels are higher than what is considered normal. Blood Glucose levels are seen to exceed 130 mg/dl when fasting and 180 mg/dl two hours after eating.
Our body tries to remove the excess sugar in the blood through urine, leading to dehydration. This causes dizziness due to high sugar. High blood glucose can be caused by eating too many carbohydrates, not exercising as much as you should, and missing or under-taking your diabetic prescription. Read more about diabetes causes.
2. Dizziness due to Low Blood Sugar Levels (Hypoglycemia)
On the other hand, Hypoglycemia indicates a state where the blood sugar levels are dangerously lower than what is considered normal. A blood glucose level of less than 70 mg/dl is generally referred to as hypoglycemia by the American Diabetes Association.
When the brain detects low sugar, it tries to preserve as much energy as possible. This is often the reason for dizziness due to low sugar. Inadequate carbohydrate intake, avoiding or postponing meals, using too much insulin or some kinds of diabetic medications, as well as too much physical exercise, can all cause blood sugar levels to plummet. Also know about normal sugar level.
Medications such as painkillers and ibuprofen can provide temporary relief. When you experience a headache, it may be a sign that your blood sugar levels are either too high or too low. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, you may want to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Also know about fasting blood sugar levels chart.
Also read about glucose in urine
Other Causes of Dizziness
Apart from Diabetes, some other potential reasons for lightheadedness include:
- An abrupt decrease in blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rapid loss of blood due to excess bleeding from an injury.
- A heat stroke
- Overly active exercise
Treatment & Prevention for Dizziness in Diabetes
The root cause of headaches and dizziness in diabetes is due to fluctuating blood sugar levels. If this is managed, with constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and maintaining it in range there may be fewer occurrences of dizziness spells.
1. Dizziness due to Low Blood Sugar Levels (Hypoglycemia)
- Follow the 15-15 rule. People with type 2 diabetes and dizziness can follow the 15-15 rule where you consume 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and check your blood sugar after 15 minutes. If your blood sugar is still low, you can take another 15 grams. This will certainly bring your blood sugar levels back to normal.
- In severe cases of hypoglycemia, your doctor may recommend hormones such as glucagon, which helps the body release stored glucose.
2. Dizziness due to High Blood Sugar Levels (Hyperglycemia)
- A properly balanced diet is the best way to prevent dizziness due to high sugar. Also, exercise plays an important role. A healthy and active lifestyle is important to manage type 2 diabetes and dizziness. If you are more prone to dizzy spells, it is important to keep yourself hydrated.
- Take your insulin doses and other medications on time and monitor your blood sugar levels constantly to prevent them from spiking. Also know about fasting blood glucose level.
When to Contact a Doctor about Dizziness?
You should consult your doctor if you experience Dizziness that may be sudden, abrupt, extreme in severity or persistent and long-lasting, especially more so if it is coupled with any of the below.
- An unexpectedly bad headache
- Chest pain
- Having trouble breathing
- Arms or legs that are numb or paralysed
- Double vision
- Irregular or fast pulse
- Slurred or confused speech
- Stumbling or difficulty in walking
- Persistent vomiting
- An abrupt shift in hearing
- Numbness or weakness in the face
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are a major cause for headaches in people with diabetes. OTC painkillers can frequently reduce symptoms; however, persons who get migraines may require prescription medication. If a person is diagnosed with prediabetes, dizziness may occur when their sugar levels fluctuate. In such cases, they may need to monitor their sugar levels regularly to see whether a pattern emerges. Also know about prediabetes diet.
Anyone who experiences recurrent headaches from hyperglycemia/hypoglycemia or frequent spells of dizziness due to diabetes must consult their medical staff. To better control blood sugar, the medication might have to be changed. When headaches become severe or continue despite maintaining optimal sugar levels, they should consult their doctor for more guidance. A headache might also have another cause. Read more about medications for diabetes.
What to do if you feel dizzy?
Dehydration and other consequences of elevated glucose levels might contribute to dizziness due to diabetes. Taking diabetic medication as directed, staying hydrated, adhering to a balanced recommended meal plan, and maintaining an active lifestyle are all parts of treating hyperglycemia induced dizziness.
Do Type-2 Diabetes Medications cause Dizziness?
Several diabetes medications have been known to bring about dizziness. If you are experiencing frequent and severe dizziness, talk to your coach or doctor immediately. Also know about ayurvedic medicine for diabetes.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.