Protein Powder & Headaches

A headache from protein powder may be an allergic reaction.

Protein powder should not cause headaches. If you experience headaches every time you ingest protein powder, you may have an allergy to whey protein. Whey protein is the most commonly used protein in most protein powder drinks. The headache that forms after drinking protein powder is related to sinus inflammation that causes pressure in the head. Talk with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment options.


Whey Protein Powder

Kids Health states that milk is made of two main proteins: whey and casein. Whey accounts for about 20 percent, while casein is the remaining 80 percent. Whey is the liquid part of the milk, and the casein proteins are the curd or solid aspect of milk. Whey protein is commonly used protein drinks, bars and other supplements. If you're allergic to milk, you should not ingest whey or casein proteins.


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Milk Allergy

During an allergic reaction to milk, your immune system produces immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies that attempt to fight off the milk proteins, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Your immune system mistakes the proteins as harmful substances and reacts to them as if they were dangerous. The IgE antibodies cause other chemicals to respond, such as histamine. Histamine is produced by mast cells in soft tissue throughout the body, such as the sinus cavity.


Sinus Headache

When histamine is produced in the sinuses, it causes inflammation, irritation and swelling. The swollen sinuses place excessive pressure on the various other parts of the head. This pressure can cause pain in the cheeks, the eyes, forehead and inner ear, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Sinus headaches are a dull, throbbing pain in the center of the head that become worse when you suddenly stand or bend over. A sinus headache may be a sign of a sinus infection and should be assessed by your doctor if you develop a fever.



Treatment for sinus headaches from an allergic reaction to whey protein begins with avoiding the consumption of whey. Instead of using whey protein-based powders, use soy or vegetable-based protein powders. Minor allergic reactions can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Sinus headaches are treated with decongestants to reduce the inflammation in the sinus cavity and pain relievers to alleviate the pain associated with the pressure. You can also use steam, a humidifier and nasal rinses to help moisten and cleanse the sinus cavity.




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