How To Minimize Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches
If youre trying to reduce your caffeine dependency by dialing back on your intake, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can put a damper on your efforts. Minimize caffeine withdrawal headaches using the following techniques:
- Wean off your caffeine intake gradually by reducing your intake by 25% each week. You can also try swapping out some of your regular coffee with decaf if you crave the taste of a steaming cup of coffee.
- Read food labels to ensure that youre not consuming extra caffeine you arent aware of.
- Use peppermint oil topically to help relieve inflammation and tighten muscles associated with headaches.
- Drink plenty of water since dehydration can cause the brain to shrink in volume and cause a headache.
- Apply an ice pack to your head to alter the blood flow or numb the area.
- Stimulate pressure points to relieve muscle tension, which can cause headaches.
- Get enough rest by taking naps or going to bed earlier than usual.
Caffeine headaches can be caused by a variety of triggers and withdrawal is one of the most common reasons. You can track your caffeine intake and notice how your body reacts so you can adjust your consumption and find the best way to wean your body from caffeine dependency while minimizing the withdrawal symptoms.
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How Are Migraines Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask a lot of questions to see what might be causing the symptoms, and will examine you, paying particular attention to the neurological exam. He or she may ask you to keep a headache diary to help figure out what triggers your headaches. The information you record will help the doctor figure out the best treatment.
Sometimes, doctors may order blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out medical problems that might cause a person’s migraines.
Triggers Of Migraine Headaches
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Does Caffeine Make Allergies Worse
When the body’s immune system reacts to normal substances, such as tree pollen or cat hair, allergic symptoms develop in the skin, lungs and internal tissues. Although caffeine is found mostly in food products, such as coffee and chocolate, it is also a drug product that has distinct effects on breathing and blood vessels. Changes in the level of caffeine in the body can affect allergy symptoms in some people.
Does Coffee Speed Up Alcohol Metabolism
Lots of people drink coffee in an attempt to speed-up alcohol metabolism. If youve had a particularly big night, you may still be feeling the effects of alcohol in the morning.
Its really important to appreciate that coffee does not speed up how fast alcohol is broken down, metabolized or cleared from your bloodstream.
If youre still drunk from the night before, coffee will not help sober you up!
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Caffeine Can Also Trigger Headaches
Drinking lots of caffeine won’t help relieve a headache. For example, if you increase your caffeine intake, but don’t increase how much water you’re drinking, caffeine can trigger a headache indirectly by causing you to become more dehydrated.
However, you’re more likely to get a headache from caffeine if you simply drink too much of it too often, because this can lead to dependence.
If you suddenly stop or reduce your caffeine intake after consuming it regularly typically more than 200 mg per day for more than 2 weeks you may feel the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. According to the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , headaches are the main symptom of caffeine withdrawal.
Caffeine narrows the blood vessels around your brain, so once you stop consuming it regularly, they expand. This causes a significant increase in blood flow to the brain, and that’s what can lead to migraine headaches.
“If you want to get off caffeine, don’t abruptly stop. Taper your intake gradually over a few days. This can help minimize the intense withdrawal headache,” says Stephens.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, it’s possible to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms by tapering down your intake to as little as 25 mg of caffeine a day.
How Does Caffeine Affect Headaches
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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Weather Changes Can Create A Perfect Storm That Triggers Migraine
More than one-third of people with migraine report that weather fluctuations can trigger an attack, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Barometric pressure headaches can be triggered by changes in the weather. A study published in 2017 in Oral Rehabilitation found an association between atmospheric pressure and the amount of migraine pain a person experienced.
Dehydration caused by hot and humid temperatures or cold, dry air can also bring on a headache, according to the American Migraine Foundation. You can’t avoid the weather, but if you know that a big change is coming, you might take care to avoid other migraine or headache triggers.
Caffeine: Poison Or Antidote When It Comes To Headaches
Caffeine in small amounts can actually be good for headache pain, and it is included in some headache medications. But if you get used to taking in lots of caffeine through coffee, tea, or soft drinks, you can get a caffeine withdrawal headache if you don’t get your daily dose, according to StatPearls. Avoid this headache trigger by gradually reducing your caffeine intake.
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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 .
It Is Totally Possible For A Person With Migraines To Also Experience A Caffeine Withdrawal Headache Though
In a truly unfortunate double whammy, both caffeine intake and caffeine withdrawal are potential migraine triggers, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Thats why its so important to figure out how caffeine affects you if you have migraines.
For instance, even if caffeine does seem to help your migraines, having too much of it may prompt additional head pain. And, interestingly, daily caffeine intake can contribute to medication overuse headaches, Dr. Natbony says. Also called rebound headaches, these typically occur in people taking medication frequently for chronic head pain. On the flip side, you could build up so much of a tolerance to caffeine that the substance is less effective when you try to use it specifically to relieve migraine pain, Dr. Green says.
In the end, the relationship between caffeine and migraines is complicated. Its pretty safe to say that if youve never had migraines and start getting headaches when you cut out coffee, its probably a caffeine withdrawal headache. But if that pain sticks around for over a week and all youve done is scale back on caffeine, you might want to check in with your doctor about your symptoms.
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Dark Chocolate Health Benefits Migraines And Headaches: Friend Or Foe
Dont eat that chocolate, it will give you a headache! If you suffer from migraines, youve probably been given this advice, at least once or twice, by a well-meaning aunt or friend. Maybe youve read it on the internet or in a natural healing book that promises to cure your migraines with a clean diet and the right oils.
Im going to let you in on a little secret: theres no clear scientific evidence that chocolate causes migraines or makes them worse. If you love and enjoy chocolate, like I do, you may not need to give it up completely in order to manage your migraines. Dont develop a 5-a-day Hershey Bar habit thats unhealthy for a whole host of other reasons but dont feel bad if you enjoy a square of dark chocolate after lunch. It most likely wont give you a headache, and it will benefit you in other ways.
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?
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Why Not Just Treat Your Headaches With Coffee
Unfortunately, caffeine’s effects on the brain can vary tremendously depending upon how often you use it. With occasional use, it may provide modest acute headache relief, as well as its characteristic satisfying sense of alertness and well-being. However, with daily or near daily caffeine exposure, the brain may develop a tolerance for, and dependency upon, the drug. This means, a given dose becomes less potent following repetitive exposure, and the brain develops an expectation that another dose of caffeine will be coming soon. If that caffeine expectation is unmet, a withdrawal syndrome may result, which includes headache itself as a prominent symptom, along with fatigue, trouble concentrating, nausea, and other symptoms suggestive of migraine. An example of this withdrawal syndrome may be the “weekend migraine” pattern where individuals experience attacks on Saturdays or Sundays associated with sleeping later than usual and delaying their morning cup of coffee.
In daily caffeine users, caffeine has less of an effect on brain activation and blood vessel constriction, and caffeine withdrawal is associated with a significant increase in brain blood flow associated with blood vessel dilation. These chronic effects of caffeine are likely a result of changes in the numbers and types of adenosine receptors expressed on brain cells as well as changes in their functions. These changes may contribute to the development of caffeine tolerance and dependency.
Is Coffee A Good Choice For Migraine
Some research indicates that if you drink too many caffeine -filled beverages like coffee , your risk for a migraine goes up. Powerful headaches may also be a symptom of caffeine withdrawal. On the other hand, caffeine is an ingredient in several over-the-counter pain medicines, indicating that coffee may also work to quell headache pain.
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The Science Behind Coke Helping With Your Headaches
Relieve Migraine Headaches, explains that caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor , as a diuretic, and it may even increase blood pressure. Some medications work on alleviating headaches by constricting blood vessels. The source states that blood vessels increasing in size is one of the common occurrences when youre having a migraine. Many migraine sufferers find that a coffee or coke early on in their headache will keep it at bay. Its interesting to note that the article states caffeine will help to keep a migraine at bay, but it doesnt state that it will cure your typical headache. The caffeine may help to keep a headache from turning into a migraine if you are prone to getting them however, it doesnt seem that it will completely get rid of a headache. Relieve Migraine Headaches concludes that when it comes to headaches, caffeine is tricky because 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!
Can Coffee Help With Migraines
WHY COFFEE CAN HELP. Caffeine is the cheapest, easiest, most available drug to treat a migraine. It constricts blood vessels which can decrease pain. If you feel a migraine coming on, try drinking a cup or two of strong black coffee or a caffeinated soft drink, a simple treatment that works for many people.
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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.
Is The Caffeine An Issue
Caffeine is a known migraine trigger. It blocks the action of a neurotransmitter known as adenosine, which has an impact on blood vessel dilation. It seems that for most patients, its caffeine withdrawal thats most likely to trigger a migraine. Youre used to consuming caffeinated beverages every day, and then suddenly you dont, and you develop a migraine.
The common recommendation is that migraine patients avoid caffeine so they do not build a dependency and then suffer migraines when they withdraw from the substance. But how much caffeine does it take to build dependence? Is there enough caffeine in dark chocolate to trigger this response?
A standard, 8-ounce cup of coffee contains between 50 to 90 mg of caffeine, and most people drink more than 8 ounces in one shot. This is not a good idea for migraine sufferers dependency develops quickly at these levels of caffeine intake. The average dark chocolate contains 12 mg of caffeine per ounce. A Ghirardelli square weighs 14 grams, which is about a half ounce, which means one of these squares contains about 6 mg of caffeine. Thats less than the 15+ mg of caffeine found in some decaffeinated coffee drinks.
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How Much Caffeine You Should Consume To Relieve Headaches
Overall, Stephens says it’s important to consume caffeine in moderation. That way, you can stave off any potential episodes of withdrawal.
“The right amount is under 400 mg of caffeine per day,” says Stephens. That’s around two to four cups of coffee, depending on how long it’s brewed for, as well as how strong the coffee you’re drinking is.
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
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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.
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