Can Eating Spicy Food Give You A Headache?

There is nothing quite like the dull throbbing pain of a headache starting to develop. As you massage your temples in both perplexion and fear of what's to come, it's hard not to question what could have brought on this soon-to-be head-splitting ache. Unfortunately, the reasons many of us develop a headache are so broad, it could be hard to find a place to put the blame. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a headache can stem from reasons including fatigue, caffeine withdrawal, stress, hunger, and even weather changes. Imagine that. It suddenly turns from sunny to rainy and you're left in bed with your head hiding under the pillows. It may sound inconceivable, but there are other triggers that are even more peculiar than moody weather. And among these triggers may be spicy foods.

Before we move on, it needs to be known that blaming your headache on your spicy dinner choice can be a bit of an oversimplification. 

Your headache could be from ingredients found in spicy foods

Oftentimes, dishes that are known to be spicy are made with ingredients associated with causing headaches. According to Excedrin, an ingredient known as tyramine is often found in spicy foods. So be aware that it may be tyramine, not the heat, that has caused your head to split in two after you finish a spicy meal.

However, before we keep waving the white flag and jumping to chili's defense, the oftentimes ear-burning peppers are linked to a specific type of headache known as a migraine. "It's likely that they react on certain pain receptors — called TRP receptors — in the brain that lower the threshold for developing a migraine," Dr. Thomas Berk, a headache neurologist at NYU Langone Health, explains to Everyday Health.

So the throbbing in your head may be due to chili. Or it may be due to another ingredient you consumed along with the chili. If you suspect your headaches are food-related, consider tracking what you eat for a period of time to see if you can identify the culprit. After all, spicy food often has enough kick without needing to kick us in the head.