Sugar headaches are a normal part of growing up. Maintaining a balanced sugar level is difficult for anyone, especially a growing child. Learn to recognize the symptoms and respond appropriately to ease discomfort and prevent more sugar headaches in the future.
What Is a Sugar Headache?
Although it has a bad reputation, sugar is necessary for our nutrition. We experience symptoms when our sugar levels are out of balance from too much or too little sugar in our system. This is also true if we swing between these levels too quickly.
Too little sugar, or hypoglycemia, is more common in adults. It can cause reduced dopamine levels and indicate that you need to eat. Hypoglycemia is often accompanied by fatigue and a low mood, as well.
Too much sugar, or hyperglycemia, is more familiar to most people. Many refer to this phenomenon as a “sugar crash.” If you oversaturate your blood with glucose, your body cannot process it immediately. This can irritate your nerves and cause your body to burn through energy quickly, hence the “crash” afterward.
How Can I Tell My Child’s Headache Is From Sugar?
You will often notice a burst of energy followed by fatigue. Your child may even tell you that their head is hurting. They may have trouble focusing and feel agitated or excited. Sometimes lightheadedness or trembling can accompany this behavior.
The most reliable indicator is checking what they ate before complaining of symptoms. If they just scarfed down a bunch of cookies, you can be relatively sure that they are experiencing a sugar crash or elevated glucose levels.
How Can I Ease My Child’s Sugar Headache?
Medication can ease the symptoms of a sugar headache. Make sure that whatever you use is specifically made for children. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are common choices. Consult a health professional for advice on what medication may work best for your family.
Headaches can amplify sensory input. Lower the lights and ensure the room is quiet to relieve additional discomfort. Your child will likely want to nap once the sugar has run its course, so allow them some time to sleep it off. A gentle massage or heat may also help.
How Can I Prevent Sugar Headaches for the Future?
Everyone knows that kids love candy. The most straightforward prevention method is to ensure your child isn’t ingesting a lot of sugar all at once. Feeding your child a healthy diet goes a long way toward balancing their glucose levels and promoting overall health. Of course, a little treat now and then is still okay.
Keep in mind that candy isn’t the only source of sugar. Fruits and carbohydrates can also elevate glucose levels. Check the ingredients of everything you buy to monitor this. For example, many brands of breakfast cereal contain a lot of sugar.
When Is it Time to See a Doctor?
Sugar headaches are usually no big deal and can be traced to apparent events, like overeating cake at a birthday party. However, if your child experiences sugar headaches frequently, even after changing their diet, this may indicate undiagnosed diabetes.
There are multiple types of diabetes, putting your child at increased risk for either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. If you notice sugar headaches occurring regularly, take your child to the doctor to get bloodwork done.
As time goes on, you will become more proficient at recognizing sugar headaches. Develop strategies for combating and preventing swinging sugar levels so you aren’t at a loss when the time comes. Consult a healthcare practitioner to develop the best medication and diet plan for your child.