Diabetes Headache and Eye Pain

You may know that going to the toilet to urinate more frequently and having a raging thirst are signs of diabetes, but did you know that headaches and eye pain are also linked to this horrible disease?

Diabetes and Headaches

Headaches are one of the many signs of high blood sugar (1), which is a hallmark of diabetes. When your blood sugar is too high, it can cause changes in your brain that lead to headaches. In addition, high blood sugar can cause dehydration (2). This dehydration can lead to tension headaches as well as migraines in some people (3).

High blood sugar can also cause changes in blood vessels, which can lead to vascular headaches. This is due to the viscosity, or runniness, of the blood causing pressure in the blood vessels. This also causes an increase in blood pressure, which contributes to diabetic headaches (4).

A high blood sugar headache can feel like a dull ache, tension headache, or migraine. The symptoms of a high blood sugar headache can also include a feeling of fullness or tightness in the head, fatigue, sensitivity to light, dizziness, nausea, and maybe even blurred vision.

How to prevent diabetes headaches

As we have learned, diabetic headaches can be caused by high blood sugar, which can lead to dehydration, which in turn can trigger headaches. On the other hand, dips in blood sugar levels can also cause headaches. In addition, some medications used to treat diabetes can also cause side effects. These side effects can include headaches along with dizziness and anxiety due to low blood sugar (5). The good news is that there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help minimise the frequency and severity of these diabetes-related headaches.

First of all, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water, throughout the day. Second, try to maintain stable blood sugar levels by monitoring your diet carefully. In other words, eat regular meals that contain whole grains and plenty of vegetables. You should also avoid sugary snacks and meals that are predominantly processed carbohydrates. This is because processed carbohydrates are digested quickly and, consequently, raise blood sugar levels rapidly. This peak in blood sugar is quickly followed by low blood sugar, which can cause energy levels to crash and headaches. This is called hypoglycemia and can also lead to other symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, fatigue, confusion, and even loss of consciousness and seizures (6).

Diabetes and Headaches: Gentleman-with-headache

Additionally, getting regular exercise, managing stress levels, and getting enough sleep are also important for managing diabetes and, therefore, preventing diabetes headaches. If you are taking medication for diabetes, talk to your doctor about any potential side effects. By following these steps, you can help keep headaches at bay.

How to Treat Diabetes Headaches

If you do experience a headache, first of all, have a glass of water. This may be all that is necessary. You may also find it helps to relax and rest in a darkened room. If the pain is really bad, you may find it helpful to take some over-the-counter medication or see your doctor for further treatment.

If you're one of the many people who prefer to use natural remedies, the good news is that there are a number of herbal remedies, essential oils, acupressure points, and yoga poses that can help relieve the pain. For example, peppermint oil has been shown to be an effective natural remedy for headaches (7). Simply apply a few drops of oil to your temples and forehead and massage gently. You can also try inhaling lavender oil (8) or peppermint oil (9) to relieve your headache.

If essential oils aren't your thing, try using acupressure. There are a number of points on the head and neck that can help relieve headache pain when stimulated (10). For example, the point between the eyebrows is said to be helpful for tension headaches. The point behind the earlobe is said to be helpful for sinus headaches. And the occipital ridge point at the base of the skull is said to be helpful for migraines.

Finally, yoga and meditation can also be helpful in managing headaches caused by stress and tension. Certain yoga poses have been shown to be especially effective in relieving headache pain (11). Regularly practising meditation techniques can also help you relax, which can help to ease pain (12). With a little care and attention, you can help prevent headaches from becoming a problem.

Diabetes Eye Pain

Diabetes can cause many eyesight issues, some of which can be painful. Some of these eye diseases are glaucoma, cataracts, and macular oedema (swelling of the retina). Having high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and being a smoker, in addition to being a diabetic, increases the risk of developing eye disease (13).


Unfortunately, having diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop glaucoma (13). This is a painful condition that is a serious condition that can lead to blindness, if left untreated. Glaucoma is generally caused by a buildup of watery liquid in the eye. This increases the pressure inside the eye, which can damage the optic nerve. Symptoms include pressure in the eyes, blurred vision, halos around lights, and pain in the eyes (14). If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see an eye doctor right away. Treatment typically involves medication or surgery to reduce the pressure in the eye. With early diagnosis and treatment, glaucoma can be controlled and vision loss can be prevented.


A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light. The clouding can cause symptoms such as blurry vision, which often begins with difficulty seeing at night (15). The likelihood of developing cataracts increases with age. However, people with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age than those without diabetes (13). This is because high blood sugar levels can damage the proteins in the lens, causing them to clump together and cloud the lens (16).

Most of the time, surgery is needed to take out the cloudy lens and put in an artificial one (17).

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in adults. As many as 1 in 3 people with diabetes will have some form of diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to the retina caused by diabetes (13). Some common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, and floaters (black spots or strings in your vision).

If you have diabetes, having comprehensive eye examinations once a year is important as it can help to identify any issues. The sooner they are spotted, the quicker you can receive treatment and prevent your eyesight from getting worse. For that reason, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned or any changes in your vision, it's important to see an optician right away.

Diabetes Symptoms: Man-with-eye-pain

While there is no cure for eyesight issues caused by diabetes, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent or slow the progression of these eye diseases. Whether you have diabetes or not, it is important to control your blood sugar levels to help prevent the development of eye diseases.

Living with diabetes can be a challenge, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. There are plenty of professionals and resources available to help you manage your condition and live a healthy, happy life.


Hyperglycemia in diabetes https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperglycemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373631

Dehydration and Diabetes https://www.diabetes.co.uk/dehydration-and-diabetes.html

Dehydration Headache https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21517-dehydration-headache

Blood viscosity and blood pressure: role of temperature and hyperglycemia https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/14/5/433/205476

Side Effects and Interactions of Diabetes Drugs https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-drugs-side-effects-interaction

Sugar crash effects and how to fix them https://news.sanfordhealth.org/healthy-living/sugar-crash-effects/

Efficacy and safety of an ethanolic solution of peppermint oil for patients with episodic tension type headache https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0037-1607119

Lavender and the Nervous System https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

Comparing the Effect of Intranasal Lidocaine 4% with Peppermint Essential Oil Drop 1.5% on Migraine Attacks: A Double-Blind Clinical Trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647908/

Effect of Acupressure and Trigger Points in treating Headache: A randomized Controlled Trial https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Effects of yoga exercises for headaches: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpts/27/7/27_jpts-2015-145/_pdf

A reanalysis of a randomized trial on meditation for migraine headaches: Distraction is not enough but meditation takes time https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8091992/

Diabetic Eye Disease https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-eye-disease

Glaucoma https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/glaucoma/

Night Vision Problems: What’s to Blame? https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/night-vision-problems-halos-blurred-vision-night-blindness

Does Diabetes Increase the Risk of Cataracts? https://www.byrdeyeclinic.com/blog/2016/12/29/does-diabetes-increase-the-risk-178393

What Are Cataracts? https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/what-are-cataracts