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Why Do I Crave Salt When I Have A Migraine

The Perks Of Caffeine

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Caffeine can be a friend to some people living with migraine and a foe to others, says Kylie Petrarca, a registered nurse with the Association of Migraine Disorders in North Kingstown, RI. During a migraine, blood vessels swell, causing an increase in blood flow around the nerves in your head and neck, which in turn send pain messages to your brain. Caffeine has vasoconstrictive properties, meaning it causes blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow, alleviating the head pain.

What Are Food Cravings

A food craving is a strong, often intense need or desire for a specific food.1 It can feel uncontrollable, but every person may experience it differently. People often crave foods high in salt, fat, or sugar. In other words, people do not often crave salads!

Some people report general hunger than a craving for specific foods. This is called non-selective hunger. Drinking water may help reduce non-selective cravings.

Recommended Lifestyle Adjustments For Migraines And Headaches

Not all lifestyle changes are studied, but these recommendations are fairly standard for how to help you cope with your headaches. Give them a try, see what works best for you.

Get enough sleep: Since fatigue and sleep disturbances are linked to being migraine/headache triggers , be sure to adjust your bedtime accordingly so that you wake up relaxed and well rested. If you commonly have headaches in the morning after waking up, it may be a good idea to get checked for sleep apnea .

Reduce your stress levels: Stress, whether itâs particular events, feelings, or time periods, are linked to triggering migraines and headache . For this reason, stress management techniques like relaxation therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and biofeedback could help . Itâs easier said than done, but prioritize de-stressing as best you can.

Avoid extreme weather: Weather changes, both hot and cold, can trigger migraines and headaches . Check the weather forecast and plan ahead. Be extra cautious about extreme heat and sun exposure, as exhaustion and dehydration can also cause headaches .

Find a dark and quiet space: For people experiencing a migraine headache, light and sound can aggravate migraine symptoms . Some people find relief by lying in dark, quiet rooms.

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Tips To Find Carb Balance

Be sure you dont fall into the diet mentality that all carbohydrates are bad.

Instead you must find balance with carbs. But how do you find balance with carbs?

The key is to try to eat complex instead of simple carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates include:

  • Whole grain breads
  • Sweet potatoes

Most people are getting too much of the simple carbohydrates instead of the complex one. This is one reason why they get cravings for carbs so often!

So try to make sure youre including more foods high in complex carbohydrates in your diet.

Dont just think low carb is the solution!

Instead Of: Products With Wheat Flour

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For some people with migraine, wheat-based foods may trigger or worsen migraine headaches. Wheat can also cause gastrointestinal problems for those who are sensitive to it. Thats the last thing you want if one of your migraine symptoms is nausea.

Try: Rice- or oat-based products

Gluten-free foods have come a long way in the last decade. Gone are the crumbly breads, hard crackers, mushy pastas, and dry muffins of the past. Rice-based pastas are especially well-tolerated for those with migraine, potentially due to the high magnesium and niacin content. Brown rice is also a staple part of the elimination diet that is often suggested to migraine sufferers in order to diagnose triggers.

Oat flour and oats in general are also an excellent, mild food for upset stomachs that can come with migraines. A migraine diet that includes oats for breakfast is a great start to the day.

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Why Do You Crave Salt When Sick

When we’re feeling under the weather with a blocked or runny nose, headache or upset stomach, we often crave salty foods like crackers, pretzels and pizza. One possible reason for this is our reduced taste abilities .

“When our nose becomes blocked our ability to taste food becomes diminished. Craving highly flavoured foods and salty foods may therefore be simply because we cannot taste food well,” Tuck said.

Why Do We Crave Carbs

Cravings often come when we feel stressed. When you eat carbs, it releases a “happy” chemical in your brain like serotonin. Many of the foods we tend to crave — sweets, white breads, and sodas — are filled with simple carbs that your body processes very fast. This boosts your feel-good hormone levels quickly, but it also causes your sugar levels to spike and drop.

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Caffeine: A Cautionary Tale

On the flip side, caffeine can cause dehydration due to its diuretic properties, which is another trigger for migraine, so its important to stay hydrated while consuming it, Petrarca says. For those who brew up a morning cup or three on the regular, try sticking to the same amount each day, and drink it at the same time of day, to help guard against migraines. Also, limit consumption to less than 200 mg if you can. Overconsumption of caffeine can result in a migraine transforming from episodic to chronic, she says.

Is It A Trigger Or A Warning

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We know that the brain of someone with migraine likes balance, like regular sleep and meal patterns. We also know that migraine can be triggered by alcohol and the menstrual cycle. The evidence for other triggers, such as exercise, eating chocolate and bright light, is less certain.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger, or if what youre experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack.

Studies have found that sometimes what you may think is a trigger is actually to do with the premonitory or warning stage of a migraine attack.

During this stage, you may get symptoms such as changes in your mood or emotions, cravings for certain foods, and being more sensitive to light, sound or smells.

These symptoms can lead to you think that something is triggering your migraine attack. For example, at the beginning of a migraine attack, you may start to crave sweet foods. You may then eat some chocolate to satisfy the craving. When you then get a headache, you may think that eating chocolate was the trigger. But actually you were starting to have a migraine attack when the cravings started and the cravings were the warning sign.

The same could be true for other triggers. If you are more sensitive to light in the warning stage, you might think bright lights are a trigger. If you are more sensitive to smells, you might think certain scents are a trigger.

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What Your Food Cravings Are Trying Desperately To Tell You

Its the rare woman who doesnt experience the occasional food craving: Yearning for donuts, candy, or chips is a phenomena seen almost universally across cultures in women of child-bearing age, says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, a retired sensory scientist who studied food cravings at Monell Chemical Senses Center.

Whats going on when you feel like you just gotta eat a certain something? Here are 6 messages that your cravings may be trying to send you.

Does Chocolate Trigger A Migraine Attack

I have an addiction to sugar. Sugar seems to be a trigger, but the more I have documented my cravings, the more I have come to realize the cravings are a symptom of my migraine. I crave chocolate before a migraine. Cravings for sugar and eating distract my mind from the impending doom.migraine hell. I used to eat dessert then woke up with a migraine attack thinking the chocolate was my trigger. The more research Ive done, the more I have come to find out that cravings before a migraine are not the trigger but the symptom for what is coming. Everyone is different and these are all lessons Ive learned over my long relationship with migraine.

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The piercing head pain often starts in the morning and may last a few hours or even up to two days. You may also have nausea, vision changes, extreme exhaustion and sensitivity to light and sounds. When you finally come out of your migraine stupor, you may find yourself raiding your pantry because you are starving from the hard work your body has been doing to deal with the pain. Some people have this happen once or twice a week at varying degrees. Others feel lucky if it only happens once or twice a year. Sure, its not a threat to life and limb, but when it happens, it hampers the days routine in a major way. Its not just annoying its draining.

If any of that sounds like your experience, it most likely means you suffer from migraines.

People of all ages and backgrounds get migraines. But according to the American Migraine Foundation, three times more women than men suffer from this condition. Why? Research shows that hormones and migraines are related when it comes to gender differences.

Limit Alcohol And Caffeine Intake

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Both alcohol and caffeine will dehydrate you and cause more cravings. To process alcohol out of your body, your kidney takes about 1 cup of water for every ounce of alcohol consumed.

When processing caffeine your kidney also requires water.

But caffeine also inhibits how the body is able to use stored fat as fuel, which makes you crave carbs even more.

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How Are Food Cravings Treated

A migraine food craving usually surfaces during the prodrome phrase of migraines, which is the first stage of migraine that occurs before the head pain. When a craving happens before the head pain phase, the craving for chocolate for example may be mistaken for a migraine trigger. Symptoms considered premonitory or warning of an impending migraine typically occur a few minutes to 3 days before the migraine attack.

During the head pain phase of the migraine, many people no longer have food cravings, but experience nausea with or without vomiting. After the migraine has passed, many people do not want to eat.

There is no specific treatment for food cravings, but if you are aware of how food cravings may predict an oncoming migraine attack, you can take preventative measures for the migraine.

How To Beat Carb Cravings

Keep your brain busy. Itâs hard to think about cravings when your mind is occupied with fun. In one experiment, volunteers who played the video game Tetris for a few minutes found that it curbed their craving for food, drugs, and other pleasures. The researchers think thatâs because your brain has limited capacity to juggle competing images.

Eat mindfully. Sometimes you reach for carbs not out of hunger but boredom. Or itâs your habit to indulge in a bowl of ice cream after dinner. Mindful eating may help. Practice paying attention to why youâre eating, slow down to savor the taste of your food, and focus on the moment. This helps your brain get in sync with your stomach and get the signal that you’re full. Studies show a strong link between mindful eating and lower body weight.

Go for the right kind of carbs. Not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbs, the ones you find in whole grains and veggies, are your body’s main source of energy. They take a while to digest, so your blood sugar levels rise slowly and you feel satisfied longer. Non-starchy veggies, such as carrots, have fewer carbs than starchy ones like potatoes. Check the labels on the foods you buy for both carbohydrate content and for sugar in the ingredient list. Even foods that aren’t “sweet” can have more added sugar than you’d expect.

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Food Cravings Predict Migraine

According to the National Headache Foundation, some people who get migraines may have subtle warnings by way of food cravings between 4 and 72 hours before the actual onset of the migraine. Note: This craving doesnt necessarily mean your migraine is triggered by the food itself. For example, while chocolate can trigger migraines for some people, concurrently, people with migraine may experience chocolate cravings up to several days before their migraine. In these cases, the chocolate cravings and the migraine are correlated, but one does not necessarily cause the other.

How To Identify Triggers

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If you have migraine, almost anything can be a trigger. This means it can be very difficult to identify your potential triggers. It may also be a combination of a few things that seems to lead to a migraine attack. And a trigger may not lead to a migraine attack every time, which can confuse things even more.

Here is an example of how combinations of triggers can work: A young woman has identified that her migraine attacks appear to be triggered when she skips meals, is feeling stressed and when she is about to have her period. If she comes home late from a very stressful day at work, her period is just about to start, and she goes straight to bed without eating a proper meal, she will almost certainly have a migraine attack. However, if she skips dinner another time, when the other triggers did not happen, she will probably not have migraine attack.

Many people find that they sometimes go a long time without having a migraine attack. During this time, your body may seem to be less sensitive to triggers and you may find that even the combination of your usual triggers doesnt result in a migraine attack.

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Dehydration And Salt Deficiency Trigger Migraines

I had migraines for well over 20 years. I am not alone about 12% of the US population has migraines. Initially, I thought I had headaches but my headaches were accompanied by symptoms that are not normally part of headaches: anxiety, IBS, RLS, nausea, sensitivity to darkness, light, smells, and everything seemed irritating. I learned later that these symptoms are part of prodome a sort of early warning that a migraine is coming.

I have a PhD in NeuroEconomics. My work had less to do with the economics side of this degree and more to do with the neuroscience. As I was working through my PhD, I had migraines, but with the demands of school, two kids and a husband, I neither had the time nor the understanding to attempt a scientific study for finding the cause of migraines. I did what everyone else with migraines does: I took pain killers. When the pain killers didnt work, I took triptans . When those medications didnt work, I went to the emergency room to get an IV with electrolytes and injections of heavy narcotic medications.

Neuron Activity and Migraines

What is Hydration?

Salt Deficiency, Hydration and the Neuron

Sodium Potassium Pump

Low Salt Initiates a Cascade of Problems

Migraines and Dehydration Triggers

Let me connect dehydration, lack of voltage, lack of sodium-potassium pump functioning, osmotic leakage, calcium channels, and migraines all together into one picture so you can see the connection.

Salt Deficient Migraines

Additional References

How Food Triggers Head Pain

Doctors believe its not the food itself that can lead to chronic migraines, but rather certain chemicals within it. For example, tyramine is found in aged cheeses and can constrict or dilate blood vessels, potential triggers for a migraine attack. Meanwhile, salty foods or marinades like soy sauce can cause dehydration, which may also lead to head pain. Whats more, processed meats containing high levels of nitrites, which are known migraine triggers in some individuals. When it comes to alcohol, red wine is a frequent culprit due to chemicals in it associated with migraines.

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What Is Salt Craving

Salt craving is a compelling or extreme desire to consume salt or salty foods. Craving for salt results from a decrease in sodium in the body either from inability to retain salt or the excess loss of sodium from the body. Salt craving is common during pregnancy. Craving for salt is also a common symptom of Addisons disease , dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances.

Depending on the cause, your salt craving may last only as long as it takes to rehydrate following mild dehydration from heavy . It may also be a permanent symptom, as is found with Addisons disease, and may be accompanied by other symptoms or signs including , fatigue, loss of appetite, and chronic diarrhea.

Left untreated, salt craving due to severe dehydration is a serious condition. Severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can result in shock or coma and may be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, , cold skin, or inability to urinate or reduced urine output.

Common Migraine Triggers To Avoid


There are specific triggers that can bring on migraine attacks. An important one, says Martin, is stress. âWomen might be more vulnerable to stress with the hormonal changes that occur during the last week of the menstrual cycle right before the onset of the menstrual period,â she says.

Other triggers include alcohol and trouble sleeping. âSome types of alcohol, like wine and sleep dysregulation, are known as migraine triggers. When hormones are fluctuating prior to menstruation, and there is an increased chance of migraine, presence of other known triggers such as alcohol or sleep disruption generally worsens things,â Pavlovic tells Insider.

Food containing the flavor enhancer MSG and nitrite may also worsen migraines, says Martin. Consuming food with MSG has been linked to cramps, diarrhea, and a painful migraine in 10% to 15% of people with recurring migraines.

Nitrates, found in processed meats and some leafy vegetables, are converted to nitrites by bacteria and eventually into nitric oxide that travels in the bloodstream. A 2016 study found that people had recurring migraines due to nitrate-rich food.

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