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Headache during fasting

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Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:39 pm

Headache during fasting

Post by Demsaydemsay »

Many people who fast for religious purposes suffer mild or moderate headaches as a result of factors such as caffeine withdrawal, stress and low blood sugar. The good news, says Dr Elliot Shevel the chairman of the South African Headache Society is that you can manage these headaches without breaking your fast.

“Headache onset often occurs in the afternoon or evening just before the fast is broken. Headache frequency typically increases over the duration of fasting. Those prone to headaches at other times of the year are most likely to get headache when fasting, but some patients that experience headaches during this time have no previous history of headaches or migraines.”

How to eliminate headache from your fasting regimen:
Dr Shevel highlights caffeine withdrawal as a common cause of headache while fasting. Patients can often prevent headaches by reducing caffeine consumption in the weeks leading up to their fast, while a cup of strong coffee just before the start of the fast may prevent caffeine withdrawal headache.

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) can also trigger headaches in many people. If a meal with high sugar content is taken before the fast begins, it can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels followed by a fast drop that may trigger a headache. Eating a meal with low sugar content before the fast may prevent the onset of a headache during the day. Contact The Headache Clinic for a list of foods which have a low glycemic index.

Dehydration is another common trigger, adequate intake of fluid before the onset of the fast can often prevent headaches. The human brain consists mostly of water, and it is very sensitive to the amount of water available to it. When the brain detects that the water supply is too low, it begins to produce histamines. This is essentially a process of water rationing and conservation, in order to safeguard the brain in case the water shortage continues for a long period of time. The histamines directly cause pain and fatigue, in other words a headache and the low energy that usually accompanies it. Make sure to drink large amounts of water before starting your fast and ending it.

“Patients should also, as far as possible, try to avoid exposure to other triggers such as stress, fatigue and lack of sleep during their fast, when there is a greater tendency to experience headache,” says Dr Shevel. “Rest and sleep often help prevent being subjected to headaches and the pain often melts away when the fast is broken.”

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