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Is Caffeine A Migraine Trigger

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Headache Treatments : How to Treat Migraines With Caffeine

If you have more questions about migraine attacks and caffeine, joining a support group and asking others about their experiences may be helpful.

MyMigraineTeam is the social network for people living with migraine. On MyMigraineTeam, more than 72,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with migraine.

Does caffeine affect your migraine attacks? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Caffeine Can Contribute To Medication

The International Headache Society defines medication-overuse headache as a headache occurring on 15 or more days per month in a person with a preexisting primary headache disorder, such as migraine, and developing as a consequence of regular overuse of acute or symptomatic headache medication for more than three months.

There are several medications linked with MOH, including combination pain relievers that contain aspirin and caffeine.

However, its not only medications with caffeine that are associated with this type of headache: Caffeine intake at levels of 100 to 200 mg per day is probably enough to contribute to medication overuse headache, says Stewart Tepper, MD, professor of neurology at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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Does Caffeine Treat Or Trigger Headaches

Many people ask whether caffeine can treat or trigger a headache. The answer is that caffeine can do both.

Caffeine can provide relief for a headache.

During a headache, blood vessels swell, tighten or go through other changes, causing an increase in blood flow around the brain. This increase blood flow pressures surrounding nerves, which send pain messages to the brain. This brings on the headache.

Caffeine has vasoconstrictive properties, meaning that blood vessels narrow to restrict blood flow, thereby alleviating the pain. Also, when caffeine is taken in combination with pain medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, it increases the absorption and strength of the medication to provide faster relief.

Caffeine can trigger a headache.

When caffeine is consumed regularly, the body becomes dependent on its effects. And because caffeine narrows the blood vessels that surround the brain, when consumption is stopped, the blood vessels enlarge. This causes an increase in blood flow around the brain and pressures surrounding nerves. This can then trigger what is known as a caffeine withdrawal headache. Withdrawal headaches can last for a couple of weeks because it takes the body a while to adjust to not having caffeine in its system.

What should you do?

Kelli Tornstrom is a nurse practitioner in Neurology in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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Caffeine: What You Need To Know

Robert E. Shapiro, MD, PhDProfessor of NeurologyUniversity of Vermont College of MedicineBurlington, VT

Keeler Center for the Study of HeadachesOjai, CA

Migraine patients often report that some attacks can be halted by a strong cup of coffee. This is not surprising to hear. Caffeine is a key active ingredient in many headache medications including ExcedrinTM, AnacinTM, MidolTM, Darvon CompoundTM, FioricetTM, and MigranalTM. Caffeine may aid in the absorption of these medicines, but can caffeine itself relieve headaches? Few research studies have examined this question, but the answer appears to be yes caffeine can provide some headache relief. For example, one small controlled study found that caffeine was more effective than placebo, and as effective as acetaminophen, in relieving tension-type headaches.

Caffeine And Placebo Tablets

Caffeine: Migraine trigger or reliever

Kragerø Tablettproduksjon AS was responsible for providing caffeine tablets and producing placebo to the sponsor. The former, Koffein Recip tablets 100 mg, are approved by the Swedish medical product agency, and was imported. The placebo tablets were made identical to these. A small amount of the herb gentiana lutea, not known to affect headaches, was added to the placebo tablets to obtain a bitter taste similar to the caffeine tablets. Tablets were capsulated to look identical.

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What Are Some Good Caffeine Alternatives To Get The Energy You Need

If drinking coffee is a migraine trigger for you, there are plenty of other ways to get the energy boost that you need.

We polled longtime migraine sufferers to find out their favorite caffeine alternatives:

Fruit and Exercise

After totally detoxing from caffeine due to a correlation with her own migraines, Jenn, 30, finds that a combination of fruit and exercisekeep her naturally energized, perhaps even more so than when she consumed coffee.

Tea, Chocolate, Soda, and Naps

Kelleigh, 32, limits her coffee consumption, but turns to tea and chocolate if she needs to kickstart her productivity at work. Catie, 30, will drink soda from time to time and is a big fan of the power napfor a much-needed energy boost.

Green Tea

When looking for caffeine alternatives, Dr. Crystal says to be mindful of the caffeine content of whatever youâre consuming or ingesting. Green tea is a great option as it contains less caffeine than coffee , while caffeine levels in energy drinks are very high.

âWhen it comes to alternatives for coffee, the caffeine content is the most important factor, but there are other things to consider,â Dr. Crystal says. âFor example, energy drinks contain other ingredients that may be harmful and should be avoided.â

Research Reveals How Little Caffeine It Takes To Trigger A Migraine

Caffeine has been identified as both a migraine trigger and an aid in controlling migraine symptoms, making it difficult for sufferers to know how to treat the substance.

New research shows the answer may come down to portion control: a study found that three or more servings of caffeinated coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks may trigger a migraine within the next 24 hours.

More than one billion adults across the globe and 37 million Americans, are afflicted with this debilitating neurological disorder, according to the American Migraine Foundation, making it the third most prevalent illness in the world.

And these episodes are no mere headaches: migraines are characterized by throbbing pain in one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea and sometimes seeing auras, flashes or bright spots. More than 90 percent of sufferers are unable to work or function at all during a migraine, which is why health care and lost productivity costs associated with migraines in the US are estimated to be as high as $36 billion a year.

What triggers them is complicated and varies by the person, but can include bright lights, certain smells, specific foods, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations, high stress and poor sleep.

Keep in mind that what these researchers called a serving of caffeine may not be what consumers consider a serving, however. For example, the researchers describe eight ounces of coffee as a serving.

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The Impact Of Aerobic Exercise On Migraine

The effect of exercise on migraine symptoms can differ from one person to the next. Some people say that exercise can trigger migraine attacks, while others note that aerobic exercise reduces their symptoms. I thought I’d get back into exercise yesterday, one MyMigraineTeam member wrote. That was a bad idea, because I woke up with a horrible migraine. However, another wrote, As my physical therapist says, motion is lotion. I know, I didnt believe movement would help with a migraine, but it can lower the pain and some symptoms.

Researchers have found that exercise may provide significant benefits for migraine sufferers. One 2019 meta-analysis of multiple studies found that aerobic exercise led to significant reductions in the number of migraine days. The study also noted small or moderate reductions in pain intensity and migraine attack duration.

A study from 2018 found that regular exercise appeared to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches, but the results did not definitively reveal how often people should exercise to get those benefits.

Frequency and intensity of exercise were addressed in a study published in 2021, which indicated that participants who performed moderate to vigorous exercise for at least two and a half hours weekly experienced fewer migraine triggers .

Is Your Headache Related To Caffeine Withdrawal

How much caffeine is too much for migraine sufferers? | GMA

If your headache occurs a few hours after you last consumed caffeine or missed your normal cup of coffee or energy drink, that could be a sign that its related to a caffeine deficit, says Spears.

Typically, the mid-to-late morning is a common time for a caffeine withdrawal headache, because a lot of people with start their day with coffee or something like that, he says.

A caffeine withdrawal headache can feel different from a migraine attack, he says. The headache has a mild to moderate profile, and it tends to not have the migraine-like features, says Spears.

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Caffeine Withdrawal As A Migraine Trigger

Withdrawal from caffeine has been shown to trigger migraine attacks in some people. Caffeine withdrawal is a process that results after a person becomes dependent on caffeine. From ingesting caffeine daily, the brain becomes used to this exposure and develops a tolerance to caffeine.

Then, when the brain expects to receive a specific substance , a dependency has developed. The amount of caffeine ingested daily to develop a dependency depends on the person but can be as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. If the brain is expecting caffeine, but you dont ingest any, you will experience withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal could lead to increased blood flow in the brain, which is a known cause of headaches and migraines.

Withdrawal headaches can last up to several weeks as the body becomes accustomed to not consuming caffeine. However, not everyone who consumes caffeine will develop a dependency or experience withdrawal symptoms.

How To Identify Triggers

If you have migraine, almost anything can be a trigger. This means it can be very difficult to identify your potential triggers. It may also be a combination of a few things that seems to lead to a migraine attack. And a trigger may not lead to a migraine attack every time, which can confuse things even more.

Here is an example of how combinations of triggers can work: A young woman has identified that her migraine attacks appear to be triggered when she skips meals, is feeling stressed and when she is about to have her period. If she comes home late from a very stressful day at work, her period is just about to start, and she goes straight to bed without eating a proper meal, she will almost certainly have a migraine attack. However, if she skips dinner another time, when the other triggers did not happen, she will probably not have migraine attack.

Many people find that they sometimes go a long time without having a migraine attack. During this time, your body may seem to be less sensitive to triggers and you may find that even the combination of your usual triggers doesnt result in a migraine attack.

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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.

Does Food Really Trigger Migraines

Does Caffeine Trigger or Treat Headaches?  National ...

Of course, the relationship between food and migraine isnât clear-cut, and unfortunately, no single factor can be directly tied to your attacks. That said, there’s scientific evidence that suggests migraines may be triggered by certain foods. Additionally, 27% of those who experience migraines believe that particular foods are personally triggering.

According to Dr. Sara Crystal, clinical neurologist and Cove Medical Director, certain foods and additives are more likely to trigger headaches in a higher percentage of migraineurs, but even among individuals, other factors like stress, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of an attack after consuming a known trigger.

So, without further ado, hereâs a list of the most common food triggers for migraine sufferers, in no particular order.

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Key Points About Caffeine And Migraines

  • Caffeine affects pain.
  • Acute treatment of headaches with caffeine is sometimes effective but should be limited to not more than two days per week.
  • For people who experience migraine, caffeine taken three or more days per week, for whatever reason, may lead to dependency and increased migraine frequency.
  • For those who have frequent headaches, avoidance of all caffeine is ideal, and at least until improvement in headache frequency is seen.

Migraine patients often report that a strong cup of coffee can stop some attacks. This is not surprising to hear. Caffeine is a key active ingredient in many headache medications including ExcedrinTM, AnacinTM, MidolTM, Darvon CompoundTM, FioricetTM, and MigranalTM. Caffeine may aid in the bodys absorption of these medicines, but can caffeine itself relieve headaches? Few research studies have examined this question, but the answer appears to be yes. Caffeine can provide some headache relief. For example, one small controlled study found that caffeine was better than placebo, and as good as acetaminophen, in relieving tension-type headaches.

We dont fully understand the mechanisms underlying the different effects of caffeine on the brain. However, the specific targets of action of caffeine in the brain and nerves outside the brain are known.

Robert E. Shapiro, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT.

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How Much Caffeine For Migraine Sufferers

Caffeine withdrawal can trigger migraines for people who are already predisposed to migraines, so the authors of this most recent study suggest that people who have migraines should have a maximum of 200 mg daily. This is about 1-2 cups of coffeebut these are 8 oz cups of standard coffee. If youre drinking Starbucks Dark Roast, you can expect to clock in 130 mg in their short 8 oz serving. Black tea brewed from a bag will usually give around 40 mg depending on how long its brewed. Coca-cola has about 34 mg per can, with Diet Coke containing 46 mg per can.

However much caffeine you choose to drink, consistency is key for people who are prone to migraines. Keeping your caffeine consumption moderate and as consistent as possible will decrease the risk of migraines triggered from caffeine withdrawal.

For some people, caffeine is off-limits, and others choose only to drink it if the proverbial jagged lines and light sensitivity indicates a migraine has begun. Keep doing whatever is working for you, and speak with your doctor about your magnesium levels, as magnesium is a great supplement for migraine sufferers. If youre drinking caffeine, youre also depleting your magnesium, so be sure to make whole-grain choices, eat plenty of leafy greens, and see if a supplement is right for you.


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Caffeine Headaches By The Numbers

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.

If You Have Migraines Put Down Your Coffee And Read This

Migraine Headaches and Caffeine Migraine Headache Relief Dr.Berg

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?

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Lately, Ive been experiencing some seriously debilitating migraines and Im unsure what to do about it. I have a feeling it might be from sitting at my desk at work all day my neck and shoulders are really tight and uncomfortable, so I think that might be triggering my migraines. I figured, who better to ask than you good people. Im sure that everyone has had a problem like this, especially when they first started their grown up jobs. What do you do to combat headaches? My problem is that Ive been waking up with a headache that gets progressively worse as I head to work , and by the time the fluorescent lights hit me when I get to my desk, Im spinning. Ive tried Advil, chugging tons of water, and downing a cup of coffee or an energy drink, which helps, but I dont like to consume so much caffeine. I might try some Excedrin today, so well see how that goes. I have also started taking a daily iron supplement, and that has helped me to feel less dizzy. So, Internet, please tell me how do you combat migraine headaches?

All youll need! My mom was kind enough to give me that truffle oil, so I used it, but feel free to use whatever oil you have laying around!

Peel and slice your sweet potatoes.

Toss them with the oil, cheese, salt, pepper, and ancho chili powder.

You can sprinkle them with a little extra cheese at the end, for good measure. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.

Try not to eat the whole tray yourself!


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