Can Eating Disorders Cause Headaches?

Can Eating Disorders Cause Headaches?

Illustrated woman with squiggly lines drawn around her head indicating headache.

We’ve all had a headache at some point in our lives. They come with varying degrees of pain, ranging from a slight annoyance to a debilitating throbbing that never seems to go away. Many conditions can cause headaches, but if you’re dealing with an eating disorder, you might wonder if this is the reason for the pain in your head. Let’s explore the relationship between eating disorders and headaches and how to find the right help for your symptoms.

What Are Headaches?

Headaches are a pain in your head or face that often give off a constant throbbing or dull sensation. They are extremely common, and you’ll probably endure many headaches throughout your life. Most headaches aren’t very dangerous, but they can be a sign of life-threatening underlying conditions. Talk to your doctor or another medical professional if you have a headache that isn’t going away or causes severe pain.

What Causes Headaches?

There are many different types of headaches, and they each fall into the category of either primary or secondary headaches. Primary headaches include the following:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • New daily persistent headaches (NDPH)
  • Cluster headaches

Primary headaches are caused by alcohol consumption, nicotine consumption, changes in sleeping patterns, physical activities, poor posture, and even coughing or sneezing. Primary headaches aren’t very dangerous, but they can be extremely painful.

Secondary headaches include:

  • Dehydration headaches
  • Sinus headaches
  • Medication overuse headaches
  • Spinal headaches
  • Thunderclap headaches

Dehydration, sinus, and medication overuse headaches are usually resolved when the underlying condition is addressed. But when it comes to spinal and thunderclap headaches, these conditions are signs of significantly dangerous situations, and you should immediately receive medical attention. Brain bleeding or other head injuries can cause thunderclap headaches, while spinal headaches occur due to leaking spinal fluid.

Headaches and Bulimia Nervosa

Headaches can also result from the complications of dealing with an eating disorder. Bulimia nervosa is one of the most common of these disorders, and the health consequences of bulimia nervosa vary depending on the underlying causes of the condition. Headaches caused by stress, either due to excessive vomiting or binging, can be mild to moderate and lead to extreme pain in muscles and the neck. Dehydration headaches can often cause confusion, dizziness, and increased heart rates. Additionally, individuals with bulimia might experience long-lasting and intense migraines.

Anorexia Nervosa and Headaches

Electrolyte imbalances, constipation, and anemia are all symptoms of anorexia nervosa that can lead to headaches. People suffering from anorexia may lack essential nutrients to ensure the growth and stability of their bodies. This lack of nutrients leads to a failure of the body to produce red blood cells, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and headaches.

Because of inadequate food intake, individuals with anorexia can also face complications due to constipation. This lack of fluid intake makes it more difficult to induce a bowel movement, leading to uncomfortable feelings of fullness and headaches as the body finally pushes out the waste. Additionally, electrolyte imbalances like low concentrations of sodium and potassium ions can impact the function of an individual’s brain and cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, irritability, and headaches.

Can Binge Eating Cause Headaches?

For some people, migraines or severe headaches after eating might seem like a result of a food allergy or a bad reaction to something in what you ate. But binge eating can also cause individuals to experience various headaches. In addition, frequent binging can lead to multiple gastrointestinal issues and a feeling of fullness, bloating, abdominal pain, and nausea. These symptoms can all result in headaches as well.

Additionally, eating large amounts of food in short periods can result in acid reflux, cramping, heartburn, and long-term effects like gastric dilation or perforation. These conditions can lead to severe headaches and are dire situations requiring a medical professional’s assistance.

Treat Eating Disorder Symptoms with Shoreline

At Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment, we have treatment methods to help you in your eating disorder recovery. We’ll aid you in the recovery process with our eating disorder PHP programs or intensive outpatient programs designed to fit your path in the recovery process. Don’t let eating disorders, headaches, and their many symptoms make your life difficult. Contact us today or give us a call at 562-434-6007 to get in touch with one of our mental health professionals and take your first step to a full recovery.