Headaches in Insulin-Dependent Diabetic Patients




Headaches affecting 117 insulin-dependent diabetic patients were studied. 50 developed 3 varieties of headaches associated with clinical hypoglycaemic episodes: (1) Brief headaches, contemporaneous with cerebral and autonomic symptoms, were relieved within minutes of ingesting carbohydrates (8 patients). (2) Prolonged headaches outlasting hypoglycaemic symptoms by 1–48 (average 4.3) hours, not relieved by food, occurred in 36 patients; 12 of these also had nausea, vomiting or photophobia. (3) Migraine headache. 11 of the 117 patients were migraineurs: in 6 of the 11 their typical migraines (2 classicial and 4 common) were induced by hypoglycaemic episodes. 9 of the 50 had 2 types of headaches, easily distinguished by each subject.

In the whole series of 117 patients, 9 had never had a headache in their life. The remainder had headaches associated with premenstrual tension, anxiety, alcohol or other causes.