Can hyperinsulinemia cause headaches? Wait – just what is hyperinsulinemia?
You can probably make a good guess if you look at the word – hyper-insulin-emia. It simply means that the level of insulin in your blood is higher than normal.
Word cloud courtesy of Tagxedo
Hyperinsulinemia often causes – well, no symptoms whatsoever! However, it can relate to symptoms depending on what’s causing it.
Usually, it’s caused by “insulin resistance”. This means your body is resistant to insulin, and so it makes even more to attempt to compensate. This could lead to type 2 diabetes.
And yes, headache is a very common symptom of type 2 diabetes. In this sense we have our first type of hyperinsulinemia headaches.
It could simply cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) – which could also trigger headache and migraine.
Much much more rarely, hyperinsulinemia may be a sign of insulinoma or nesidioblastosis.
In insulinoma, the patient has a tumour (tumor) or tumours of the pancreas. And yes, headache may be one of the symptoms.
And nesidioblastosis? Also called congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI), this is more than one disorder that can again cause low blood sugar and headache.
There’s yet another term used for a group of conditions that may relate to hyperinsulinemia – that is, metabolic syndrome. Remember insulin resistance? Well, in this case it may result in high blood sugar levels.
A study published in 2012 suggested that insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome may indeed be related to migraine. It’s a confirmation of this study from 2009. In fact, patients with metabolic syndrome seemed to have migraine attacks that lasted longer.
Fine – so clearly hyperinsulinemia headaches exist and are even a significant issue. In fact, migraineurs are more likely to suffer from it. But why?
In some cases, it has been suggested that there’s a genetic connection (an example here). Maybe there’s a genetic root to both.
But it could also be that problems with the normal functions of your body could trigger headache and migraine attacks. For example, problems regulating blood sugar or high blood pressure. Nitric oxide stress is another factor which you can read about here.
So what can you do about all this? Could hyperinsulinemia be a problem for you? Can it be diagnosed accurately?
Yes, you can see your doctor and be tested for hyperinsulinemia. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may want to look more carefully at symptoms and causes. Her diagnosis will help you decide on treatment.
Usually the first step is diet and exercise, that is if the hyperinsulinemia is mild. But there are many treatments depending on which related disorder you may have.
This could certainly be an issue for some headache patients and migrainuers. It should especially concern you if you are at risk for diabetes, or if you struggle with obesity. Finding proper treatment could significantly lower the frequency of your headaches or even eliminate them altogether.