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Does Caffeine Cause Migraine Headaches

Drinking This Much Coffee May Trigger Migraines

Migraine Headaches and Caffeine Migraine Headache Relief Dr.Berg

Three or more caffeinated drinks a day is linked with migraines.

Drinking too much coffee or other caffeinated drinks may be a trigger for migraines among people prone to these severe headaches, a new study suggests.

The study researchers found that, among people with periodic migraine headaches, consuming at least three caffeinated drinks a day was tied to a higher likelihood of experiencing a migraine on that day or the following day. However, consuming only one or two caffeinated drinks a day was generally not associated with migraines, the study found.

Although many people anecdotally report that caffeine tends to trigger their migraines, few rigorous studies have examined this link. Indeed, the new study, published today in The American Journal of Medicine, is one of the first to examine whether daily changes in caffeine intake are tied to the onset of migraines.

“Interestingly, despite some patients with episodic migraine thinking they need to avoid caffeine, we found that drinking one to two servings day was not associated with higher risk of headache,” study senior author Dr. Suzanne Bertisch, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a clinical investigator in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a statement. Still, more research is needed to confirm the findings “but it is an important first step,” Bertisch said.

But When Does Caffeine Help A Migraine

Caffeine is what Dr. Crystal calls a âdouble-edged sword,â because while it can trigger headaches, itâs also an active ingredient in some migraine relief medications.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, caffeine affects the activity of adenosine, a naturally occuring and necessary brain substance. During migraine attacks, adenosine levels in the blood rise. Caffeine can block specific brain cell receptors adenosine typically bind to, stopping its effects. Caffeine also has vasoconstrictive properties that can restrict blood flow. Since blood vessels vasodilate, or get larger, before a migraine attack, caffeine can help counterbalance that effect, thus decreasing pain.

âCaffeine helps relieve headaches by its own analgesic, or alleviating, effects, and by enhancing the analgesic effects of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen,â Dr. Crystal says.

Thereâs still much research to be done to determine exactly how caffeine results in acute anti-migraine and pain control, but the evidence is there: A 2017 study published by The Journal of Headache and Pain found that combining caffeine over-the-counter pain relief medications significantly improved relief compared to using the medication alone. And while treating headaches with non-medical options is sometimes effective, The American Migraine Foundation recommends limiting this to two days a week.

Does Caffeine Cause Or Cure Migraine

TL DR Much has been said about caffeines effect on headaches. Many say that it could cause migraine headaches, while others believe it could cure than do harm. But according to research, caffeine could in fact ease the pain from migraine because of two things it has vasoconstrictive properties resisting blood flow, and that it speeds up the effectivity of painkillers. But too much caffeine could cause migraine too mainly because of caffeine withdrawal and medication rebound.

Migraines can get sopainful that people who suffer from them are often only able to do little, if nothing at all.

Migraine headaches are very common and are a major health problem globally. In the United States alone, there are about 38 million migraine patients adults and children alike . Thats about 1 in 4 households with people prone to migraines.

Many people do not realize how serious and debilitating migraine can be, the Migraine Research Foundation writes. In addition to attack-related disability, migraine interferes with a sufferers ability to function in everyday life, whether that is going to school or work, caring for family or enjoying social activities.

But theres a silver lining:

Caffeine, which is in so many delicious products, actually helps relieve symptoms and boosts the effectiveness of medications.

Sounds too good to be true? Not really!

Its all backed by science.

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What Else Can I Do

Once you figure out what youâre allergic to, try to avoid it as much as you can.

Manage outside triggers:

  • Stay inside on windy days, when more allergens will be in the air. Mid-morning and early evening are also good times to avoid the great outdoors. Thatâs when pollen counts are highest.
  • Keep your house and car windows closed. Use air conditioning to cool and clean the air.
  • Ask another family member or friend to take care of your yard chores. Mowing, raking, and gardening can stir up pollen and mold.
  • Dry your clothes in a dryer. If theyâre outside on a clothesline, theyâll trap allergens.

Control indoor allergens:

  • Keep your home free of dust. Clean with a wet mop instead of a broom.
  • Use special covers on your box springs, mattress, and pillows to keep out dust mites. Wash your bedding each week in hot water, then dry on high heat.

Avoid pet allergens:

  • Wash your hands after you touch any animal. If it lives in your home, keep it off your bed and out of your bedroom.
  • Keep as few carpets and rugs in your home as you can. Wood floors, tile, and linoleum collect far less dander, the flakes of dead skin that cause most pet allergies. Vacuum any carpet you do have often.

No matter what kind of allergies you have, you can also:

Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports: âAllergic Rhinitis and Chronic Daily Headaches: Is There a Link?â

Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: âPrevalence of migraine headaches in patients with allergic rhinitis.â

Caffeine Headaches By The Numbers

Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline Treatment

Caffeine-withdrawal headaches generally occur when you consume over 200mg of caffeine daily for 2 weeks, then stop or delay your caffeine intake. The headache goes away within an hour of consuming 100mg of caffeine. Heres the amount of caffeine in various sources:

  • Coffee : 95-165 mg
  • Espresso : 47-64 mg
  • Energy drinks : 27-164 mg
  • Soda : 24-46 mg
  • Green tea : 25-29 mg
  • Black tea : 25-48 mg
  • Milk Chocolate : 9 mg
  • Dark Chocolate : 30 mg

If you stop caffeine completely, caffeine-withdrawal headache symptoms should go away in about 1 week.

Recommended Reading: How To Get A Migraine

How Do You Get Rid Of A Coffee Headache

Headache is one of the most common body conditions that people experience in their daily life. Whether its due to overwork, lack of sleep, or too much ingestion of caffeine, headache may result in a dull and pressing mood.

If your headache is caused due to coffee consumption then the first thing you should do is stop drinking it.Many alternatives in the market can satisfy your caffeine boost. Moreover, you can also have decaffeinated coffee to get a similar energy fix.

To get rid of such headaches, some of the best tips are:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Applying ice pack
  • Avoiding other caffeinated foods and beverages

You can have some ice cream as well to uplift your mood. Most importantly, try to take proper amount of rest and eat a nutritious meal. Moderate consumption of coffee rarely affects you but if you have a headache even after curbing coffee, seek medical help from experts for a better recommendation.

How To Remedy A Caffeine Headache

The number one cause of a caffeine headache is caffeine withdrawal.

Even a small decline in the amount of caffeine a person usually consumes can result in a mild headache.

People who miss their daily dose, consume less than their average, or who are detoxing from caffeine will most likely experience this type of headache.

Need help reducing caffeine ?

  • â itâll help you understand what caffeine is doing for you.
  • Consider trying the Wean Caffeine supplement . It helps avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms that occur when quitting caffeine.
  • As many have experienced, you dont need to be an addict to experience the negative effects of caffeine

    People who consume caffeine in a hit or miss fashion tend to have more caffeine-induced headaches than those that have the same amount every day.

    Also, those that consume too much caffeine in a short amount of time often experience a headache as a common caffeine overdose symptom.

    Finally, those who are ultra-sensitive to the caffeine molecule or who have an allergic-like reaction to the substance, can also experience a headache. However, this type of caffeine headache the least common.

    If you arent intentionally quitting caffeine, the best remedy for a caffeine withdrawal headache is to consume more caffeine.

    As soon as a person begins to feel a tightness behind the eyes, he/she should evaluate their recent caffeine consumption and then consume an adequate amount of caffeine to stop the withdrawal.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Caffeine Withdrawal

    If you have developed a dependence on caffeine, an abrupt cutback can cause withdrawal symptoms that may include:

    • Headaches.
    • Muscle pain.
    • Irritability.

    In general, the more caffeine you are used to consuming, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms are likely to be. Symptoms of withdrawal begin 12 to 24 hours after the last caffeine intake and can last two to nine days.

    Caffeine can be a useful tool for an adult who needs help waking up and concentrating. But, it can also cause problems if youre not careful with it. Dont use caffeine too much or you could become dependent or have insomnia or headaches. Otherwise, enjoy that coffee or chocolate!

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/23/2020.


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    Salad Dressings And Sauces

    Caffeine Headaches: What Every Headache Sufferer Should Know

    If you get a headache after eating Chinese food, barbecued chicken or beef, or even salads, the culprit causing your headache might be monosodium glutamate . This ingredient is used as a flavor enhancer in soy sauce, barbecue sauces and salad dressings, as well as potato chips, lunchmeat and more. This one can be tricky to track because MSG also shows up on ingredient lists as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed oat flour, glutamic acid, autolyzed yeast, sodium or calcium caseinate and other terms.

    Even though many people can consume nitrates, nitrites, sulfites, tyramine and MSG without problems, some people are sensitive to certain ingredient triggers, especially migraine sufferers. If you think your headaches are food related, thats why tracking what you eat each time you have a headache can be so helpful. Share your concerns and your tracking notes with your doctor to find out the best ways to avoid or relieve food and drink related headaches.

    Be sure to keep our convenient, on-the-go stick packs of BC® Original pain relief powder on hand for quick pain relief whenever a headache pops up.

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    What Happens During A Migraine

    Every migraine begins differently. Sometimes people get a warning that a migraine is on its way. A few hours or even days before the actual headache, people might feel funny or “not right. They might crave different foods, or feel thirsty, irritable, tired, or even full of energy. This is called a “premonition.”

    Some people get auras. These are neurological symptoms that start just before the headache and last up to an hour. An aura is different in every person, but it often affects vision. For example, a person might:

    • have blurred vision
    • see spots, colored balls, jagged lines, or bright flashing lights
    • smell a certain odor
    • feel tingling in a part of their face

    Once the headache starts, light, smell, or sound may bother people with migraines or make them feel worse. Sometimes, if they try to continue with their usual routine, they may become nauseated and vomit. Often the pain begins only on one side of the head, but it might eventually affect both sides. Trying to do physical activities can make the pain worse.

    Most migraines last from 30 minutes to several hours some can last a couple of days.

    Snoring And Sleep Apnea

    If a person snores regularly, they may be at higher risk of chronic headaches. Snoring is one of the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes temporary pauses in breathing during sleep.

    Sleep apnea disrupts sleep and often results in people waking with a headache and feeling unrested. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

    • pauses in breathing

    Recommended Reading: Visual Representation Ocular Migraine

    The Downside Of Caffeine

    Yes, caffeine helps many people during a migraine attack. However, studies show that up to 1 in 3 people find caffeine actually triggers migraine symptoms. These same studies suggest that some people with migraine should avoid caffeine completely. Others should consume no more than 200 mg a day. Some people are more sensitive and their bodies react with a headache or migraine with as little as 10 mg of caffeine a day.1,4

    What seems to be the difference in how people respond to caffeine? People who consume caffeine daily or near-daily may develop a tolerance for the drug. This means that it takes more caffeine to get the same effect. Then the body comes to expect caffeine and revolts if it does not get it. This may trigger head pain, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and nausea.1

    Doctors believe a ârebound headacheâ is caused when the blood vessels open up without caffeine to keep the vessels narrow. Also, long-term caffeine use may change how adenosine acts in the brain.1

    This is why some doctors recommend that people with severe or chronic migraines avoid caffeine completely. This includes caffeine found in food, drink, and medicine. However, anyone who is consuming caffeine regularly and in higher amounts should not stop cold turkey. It is important to slowly decrease caffeine consumed to avoid a migraine or rebound headache.1

    It is important to talk with your doctor about how much caffeine you consume as you work to manage your migraines.

    Tips For Reducing Or Eliminating Caffeine

    Does Caffeine Help Headaches

    If you decide that cutting down or quitting caffeine is the way to go, start slowly. If you like caffeine in the form of cold beverages such as sodas or energy drinks, the Cleveland Clinic suggests trying to drink water instead. Caffeine-free unsweetened iced tea might also be a satisfying substitute.

    If youre a coffee drinker, try cutting out one cup of caffeinated coffee a day, or drink a half-caffeinated and half-decaffeinated coffee mix. Slowly shifting to higher ratio of decaf over a period of weeks can help reduce your intake while minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

    But keep in mind that decaffeinated coffee still contains a small amount of caffeine, which can keep you dependent on caffeine and lead to withdrawal headache if you stop the decaf abruptly.

    Another idea for reducing caffeine intake: Exercise instead.

    Ive seen people substitute exercise at that time when they would typically have coffee, and that seems to help them through the withdrawal process, says Spears.

    Read Also: How To Get A Migraine

    Dr William B Young Advises:

    That’s a question with a complicated answer. The key to whether caffeine is harmful or beneficial depends on how much you ingest.

    We know that caffeine can help migraines. Some people find that a cup of coffee or tea helps relieve an occasional or . Caffeine is also used as an ingredient in many commonly used prescription and over-the-counter headache medications.

    However, caffeine can also cause headaches. An important study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine about ten years ago, found that people who drank more than one cup of coffee a day were at risk for getting a withdrawal headache if they went without it. This is why people who drink coffee at work on weekdays may develop headaches on the weekends

    By signing up, you agree to our and .

    Also, people who get occasional headaches or migraines and drink more than two cups per day of caffeinated beverages -or who take a lot of medication that contains caffeine – are at risk for developing daily headaches. If you fall into this group, you should gradually cut down on your caffeine intake until it is eliminated. Then you usually will go back to getting only occasional headaches. But you must cut down on the caffeine very gradually or your headaches may worsen.

    Understanding Rebound Related Symptoms

    While caffeine is not directly responsible for migraines, sudden withdrawal of it can cause a rebound effect, with which most of us are familiar. The NHF recommends those with frequent headaches avoid daily use. For myself, I would avoid having multiple lattes or cups of coffee per day, but I seem to do fine with my usual intake of two 12 oz Cherry Cokes. So like everything, moderation is probably the best bet. If you have any questions about whether caffeine is hurting you, or could help you, ask your physician.

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    Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches Are Most Likely Your Issue Here

    These can happen when your brain becomes used to that regular hit of caffeine over time. But lets back up a bit so you know exactly which processes to blame for your head pain.

    Caffeine peps you up by affecting a chemical in your brain called adenosine. Adenosine typically accumulates in your brain over the course of the day, making you sleepy, Lauren Green, D.O., R.D., a board-certified neurologist at the USC Headache and Neuralgia Center and assistant clinical professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, tells SELF. As an adenosine antagonist, caffeine is an opposing force that helps wake you up by binding to your adenosine receptors. This blocks your brains absorption of adenosine, preventing the level of drowsiness you would otherwise experience, Dr. Green explains.

    All of this can happen with even one cup of coffee. But when you regularly consume significant amounts of caffeine, you can develop additional adenosine receptors, Dr. Green explains. And, in general, your adenosine receptors will become less sensitive to the effects of any caffeine you do consume. This means that over time you need to ingest more caffeine in order to block adenosines fatigue-inducing effects, so you form a dependence of sorts.


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