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Does Caffeine Make Migraines Worse

Caffeine Caffeine Withdrawal And Chocolate

Is Coffee Bad For Your Migraines And Headaches? What is caffeine headache?

People are often unaware of the amount of caffeine hidden in the everyday foods they consume. A two-ounce square of dark chocolate contains about forty grams of caffeine, the equivalent of a shot of espresso. Lets not forget chocolate in beverages, ice cream, frozen yogurt, toppings, cookies, cakes, and brownies.

Table 1 provides generic measures of the caffeine contained in some foods, drinks, and medicines. Note that caffeine content will vary with brands and brew times. A simple internet search will yield more specific content information for most brands on the market.

Have you ever heard the advice that drinking a cup of strong coffee can ward off a migraine? According to one theory of migraine pain, the reason this works is that blood vessels in your head and face dilate as a result of neurochemical reactions in your brainstem. The inflamed vessels then disturb the nerves around them. Caffeine constricts those blood vessels and reverses the inflammation.

The problem is that regular consumption of one or more cups per day can cause a rebound effect when that intake is skipped or delayed and the constricting caffeine wears off, which can happen within twenty-four hours.

Coffee And The Vestibular Patient: Fact Or Myth

Weve been hearing a lot about coffee and its influence on our bodies. This months blogpost is from the Dizziness Depot blog of Alan Desmond at:

David H. Kirkwood,

Alan Desmond, AuD, is the author of two textbooks, several book chapters, and two educational booklets for primary care physicians, all related to dizziness and vertigo. He is a co-author of the Clinical Practice Guideline for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, and represents the American Academy of Audiology at the American Medical Association. He is the founder/director of Blue Ridge Hearing and Balance Clinic in Bluefield and Princeton, WVa. His blogusing input from many of the worlds best experts in the balance businesslooks at the science of vestibular diagnosis and treatment, while also posing the question why there are very few fully equipped balance clinics. Dr Desmond lives in Davidson, NC, with his wife and teenage daughter.

A few weeks ago, my friend and blog editor, Holly Hosford Dunn, PhD, posted a blog about the pros and cons of drinking coffee. I love my morning home brewed Starbucks, yet I have told many patients over the years to avoid caffeine if there was any suspicion of Ménières disease.

It got me thinking. Where is the evidence? Is this unfounded conventional wisdom, or can we assure our patients that reducing caffeine will make a positive difference for them?

Okay, so the diuretic effect of coffee is negligible.

Can Caffeine Ease Migraine Attacks

A variety of drugs used to treat headaches, such as Excedrin, Anacin, and Midol, contain caffeine.

This is because caffeine may reduce the sensation of pain through its effects on adenosine receptors, which influence pain signaling in the brain.

While research around caffeine and migraine is still ongoing, its thought that since adenosine is involved in the physiological processes associated with migraine attacks, caffeine may be able to reduce some of the pain associated with them via its effect on adenosine receptors.

However, the amount of caffeine consumed and the frequency of consumption, have a lot to do with its beneficial effects.

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A Headache Caffeine Connection The Bad News

Many of the things that can help can also hinder. As a stimulant, especially combined with sugar, caffeine can pick you up but may also drop you quickly. One of the worst things a migraine prone person can do it to take in large amounts of sugar and caffeine on an empty stomach, which can make you blood sugar levels do some pretty wild things, and may stimulate that caffeine headache. In other words, if you’re stopping for tea, don’t forget the crumpets!

As a diuretic, caffeine may also rob your body of some of the things it really needs. For example, research is showing that migraine sufferers may need to increase the amounts of magnesium in their bodies. But caffeine may be taking it out of your body when you’re trying to put it in!

What caffeine does to your blood vessels may be good and bad too. Although it may help to constrict your blood vessels, the headache caffeine connection may be in the way it can backfire and also start expanding them!

The question of becoming used to caffeine, partly related to the way it acts on the blood vessels, may cause the worst problems. “Weekend headache” is often caused when someone drinks a couple cups of coffee every morning at work, and then sleeps in during the weekend. Since most of us don’t drink coffee while we sleep, the withdrawal can trigger a migraine.

Medications add to the problem combining aspirin with coffee, or drugs containing caffeine, can heighten the bad effects.

The Caffeine And Headache Connection

Does Caffeine Cause or Remedy Migraines?

Of particular note is the relationship between caffeine intake and the development of medication overuse headaches.

Headaches caused by the excessive use of pain relievers is a type of chronic headache, which occurs in susceptible individuals. Its considered a serious condition and now stands as the third most common type of chronic headaches around the world.

Therefore, when caffeine is consumed excessively for ongoing periods of time, it may very well induce distinct neurological changes that increase cortical hyperexcitability and promote the rapid release of certain neuropeptides, which can trigger or exacerbate the chronicity of pain.

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If You Have Migraines Put Down Your Coffee And Read This

During medical school, a neurologist taught me that the number one cause of headaches in the US was coffee.

That was news to me! But it made more sense when he clarified that he meant lack of coffee. His point was that for people who regularly drink coffee, missing an early morning cup, or even just having your first cup later than usual, can trigger a caffeine withdrawal headache. And considering how many daily coffee drinkers there are , its likely that coffee withdrawal is among the most common causes of headaches.

Later in my neurology rotation, I learned that caffeine is a major ingredient in many headache remedies, from over-the-counter medicines such as Excedrin and Anacin, to powerful prescription treatments such as Fioricet. The caffeine is supposed to make the other drugs in these combination remedies work better and, of course, it might be quite effective for caffeine-withdrawal headaches.

But then I learned that for people with migraine headaches, certain drugs, foods, and drinks should be avoided, as they can trigger migraines. At the top of this list? Coffee.

So, to review: the caffeine in coffee, tea, and other foods or drinks can help prevent a headache, treat a headache, and also trigger a headache. How can this be?

Caffeine And Primary Headachesfriend Or Foe

  • 1Nordland Hospital Trust, Bodø, Norway
  • 2Institute of Clinical Medicine, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • 3Headache Research, Wolfson CARD, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
  • 4The Headache Centre, Guy’s and St Thomas’, NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom

Background: The actions of caffeine as an antagonist of adenosine receptors have been extensively studied, and there is no doubt that both daily and sporadic dietary consumption of caffeine has substantial biological effects on the nervous system. Caffeine influences headaches, the migraine syndrome in particular, but how is unclear.

Materials and Methods: This is a narrative review based on selected articles from an extensive literature search. The aim of this study is to elucidate and discuss how caffeine may affect the migraine syndrome and discuss the potential pathophysiological pathways involved.

In general, chronic consumption of caffeine seems to increase the burden of migraine, but a protective effect as an acute treatment or in severely affected patients cannot be excluded. Future clinical trials should explore the relationship between caffeine withdrawal and migraine, and investigate the effects of long-term elimination.

John Addington Symonds, the Goulstonian lecture for 1858

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Does Taking Too Much Caffeine Cause Headaches

Taking too much caffeine can cause a caffeine overdose. This often happens when you are experiencing a withdrawal, where the blood vessels expand, allowing the pain signals to reach your brain and make you feel uncomfortable again.

Symptoms of this overdose include:

  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting

I suggest taking a low to moderate amount of caffeine to relieve your headache or migraine.

Once youre feeling better, you should lay off the caffeinated beverages for a few days to allow your body to rest.

If not youll probably end up with a case of chronic daily headaches, a condition that refers to any type of headaches that frequently occur during at least 15 days every month for a duration of half a year or more.

Bright Lights Big Headache

Migraine Headaches and Caffeine Migraine Headache Relief Dr.Berg

Some people who have migraine or headaches can have a condition called photophobia, which is abnormal or extreme sensitivity to light, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Its so common in migraine that its actually one of the diagnostic criteria.

Bright fluorescent lights, flickering lights, and even very bright natural sunlight can all trigger a migraine attack in people who have photophobia. However, sensitivity to light can also be a premonitory symptom, or a sign that a migraine attack has already started.

If light is in fact a trigger for you, gradually increasing your tolerance to light may reduce headaches and migraine attacks brought on by photophobia.

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Cigarettes Or Just Cigarette Smoke May Trigger Headache And Migraine

For some people, the smell of tobacco smoke can be a migraine trigger. For others, smoking cigarettes is thought to trigger migraine attacks, as described in a study of medical students in Spain published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

Whats the connection between smoking and headaches? According to the National Headache Institute, the nicotine in cigarettes is the main cause, because it constricts the blood vessels in your brain, which leads to less blood flow to the brain and the surrounding tissues, which in turn can cause a migraine attack or directly cause head pain.

E-cigarettes, used for vaping, also contain nicotine and can also cause headaches. And stopping either smoking or vaping can lead to headaches caused by nicotine withdrawal.

This one has an easy fix: Don’t smoke, and do your best to stay away from smokers.

Experts Answer: Does Caffeine Cause Or Cure Headaches

Each week, MyHealthNewsDaily asks the experts to answer questions about your health.

This week, we asked neurologists and headache specialists: Does caffeine cause headaches, or cure them?

Laura M. Juliano, director of Behavioral Pharmacology and Health Promotion at American University, Washington, DC:

“There have been some case reports of people experiencing headache after drinking caffeine, but in general caffeine does not directly cause headaches.

“Regular caffeine consumption leads to physical dependence on caffeine, which manifests as withdrawal symptoms when a caffeine user abruptly stops using caffeine. A diffuse throbbing headache is a hallmark feature of caffeine withdrawal. The reason for this is that one of the pharmacological effects of caffeine is a constriction of blood vessels in the brain.

“When someone regularly drinks caffeine, the body adjusts in essence fighting this effect. Then when caffeine isn’t consumed the result is that blood vessels dilate too much, which causes a headache. It takes a little while for the body to readjust to not having caffeine and that is why caffeine withdrawal headaches can persist for a week or more. A person doesn’t have to be a very heavy caffeine user to experience a caffeine withdrawal headache. It varies from person to person but even as little as a small cup of coffee each day could lead to withdrawal if someone stops caffeine abruptly.

“If someone is headache-prone, they should avoid using caffeine regularly.”

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Does Fioricet Work For Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches can make you feel terrible. Although some people experience them differently, migraines usually feel like strong, pounding headaches on one side of the head. They can make you feel sick to your stomach and are worse when you move around. If you get migraines, you need a strong medication that will get you back to normal fast.

Fioricet is a well-known prescription medication used to stop a headache that has already started. It is intended to be used for tension-type headaches. Although it can sometimes be effective against migraines, there are better options available for most people.

Caffeine What It Does To You

Is Drinking Coffee Good or Bad For Headaches?

Since you’re reading this you probably already know that caffeine is a stimulant found in drinks such as coffee, tea, colas and other soft drinks. Caffeine is put in certain drugs such as Cafergot, Fiorinol, Dristan and Excedrin.

Being a stimulant, caffeine works on the central nervous system and makes you more alert. But that’s not all. It also acts as a vasoconstrictor , as a diuretic, and it may even increase blood pressure. It can cause other reactions in some people. Though usually not classified as an addictive drug, caffeine can be addictive in the sense that you can experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it.

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What Should You Avoid

While a 2016 study found that migraine intensity in study subjects decreased after discontinuing the use of caffeine, thereâs no reason to avoid it completely if it does not trigger your own headaches, Dr. Crystal says. In fact, consuming coffee has benefits, too.

âCoffee may help prevent neurological diseases, and a compound found in both caffeinated and decaf coffee may help prevent abnormal protein accumulation found in Alzheimerâs and Parkinsonâs patients,â? Dr. Crystal says.

Those who are unsure of how caffeine affects their migraines can keep a food journal or use a migraine tracker app to log potential triggers, as well as monitor how much caffeine is a safe amount for you.

In general, Dr. Crystal suggests limiting your caffeine intake to less than 200mg total per day. Thatâs about two cups of coffee, five cups of soda, or one energy drink.

Caffeines Effects On Pain And Non

There is evidence that caffeine may reduce pain sensation through its effects on adenosine receptors . The antinociceptive effects of caffeine may be explained by an inhibition of cyclooxygenase activity as well as adenosine receptor antagonism. Caffeine acts not only by central blocking of adenosine receptors, which affects pain signaling, but also by blocking peripheral adenosine receptors on sensory afferents . It was demonstrated that a 200 mg caffeine dose can inhibit the analgesic effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation . Caffeine combined with a standard dose of analgesics led to an increased proportion of individuals with a satisfactory level of pain relief . Laska et al. found that, in combination with paracetamol or aspirin, caffeine reduced the amount of analgesic needed to reach the same effect by approximately 40% . Other clinical effects in these patients may be linked with the promotion of the absorption of analgesics by rapid lowering of gastric pH. Nevertheless, meta-analyses of caffeine combined with ibuprofen, paracetamol, or acetylic acid found only weak adjuvant effects in patients with postoperative pain .

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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.

Bagels & Doughnuts Are Foods That Can Cause Migraines

Why Purity Coffee Does Not Cause Caffeine Headaches or Heartburn

Last, but certainly not least yeast products! Im talking about sourdoughs, bagels, doughnuts you name it! Bread products are usually seen as a safe food for most folks as theyre quite bland. However, as we mentioned above several times before sneaky tyramine is in this too! Its also in alcohol such as red wine which most often is one of the most common headache triggers for individuals. But back to bread, its not as common as alcohol or cheese as a migraine triggers but it still does affect quite a few people.

Cutting back or cutting out gluten can have other health benefits and implications so if youre going to remove it make sure to do with advice from a doctor. For myself, I try to reduce my intake as eating too many bread products I know can cause me to be more prone to a migraine.

Lets be honest when you get a migraine you already feel crummy, sluggish, and tired. Do we really need to eat bread that will just double down on most of those feelings? So next time you have an attack try to limit or reduce your intake of these types of products to see if it helps you to bounce back from your migraine quicker!

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