Tracking Headaches And Caffeine Consumption Can Help
If I have patients with chronic migraine or chronic headaches, I usually recommend that they track their headaches and then try to do some type of step down as far as caffeine use, says Spears.
This doesnt mean going cold turkey, he adds. That would most likely send them into a severe headache situation. I recommended maybe decreasing caffeine on one or two days every week to see if it makes a difference, he says.
If the patient is in the episodic migraine category less than 15 days per month then I recommend keeping track of how they use caffeine, and how it relates to their migraine attacks, he says.
Paying attention to whether it seems to ward off or shorten an attack versus whether it seems to trigger migraine can help determine whether reducing or eliminating caffeine is the best way to proceed, Spears explains.
What You Can Do
Be aware of how caffeine affects you, and pay attention to how much of it you drink and eat. If you get migraines, or if you find yourself having headaches frequently, you may want to try to cut down on caffeine or avoid it completely. Itâs best to do that gradually. For example, if you normally have 2 cups of coffee in the morning, start by cutting back to one. If you quit suddenly, it can take up to a week to get past the withdrawal symptoms.
Keep track of your headaches and what seems to help. Get good sleep, and drink plenty of water. A nutritious diet and daily exercise can also help. Try to manage stress. You might be able to beat a headache with relaxation techniques, meditation, or massage instead of using medicine or caffeine.
Migliardi, J. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, November 1994.
Lipton, R. Archives of Neurology, February 1998.
National Headache Foundation: âCaffeine: A Little Bit Goes a Long Way.â
Ward, N. Pain, February 1991.
American Headache Society: âCaffeine and Migraine.â
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: âHeadache: Hope Through Research.â
Diamond, S. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 2001.
Diener, H. Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 2011.
Silverman, K. New England Journal of Medicine, October 1992.
Addicott, M. Human Brain Mapping, October 2009.
Cleveland Clinic: âRebound Headaches.â
Cupini, L. Journal of Headache and Pain, 2005.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressants
Depression and migraines often go hand in hand, as mood changes are commonly associated with migraine attack, so much so that premonitory depression is sometimes shown to occur before a migraine, ostensibly warning the sufferer of an episode. Id say we deal with mood issues at least 50% of the time in migraine patients, maybe more, mentioned Dr. Charles in the summit interview. Luckily, if doctors find episodic periods of depression in migraine sufferers, they can test whether the mental complications disappear after acutely treating the migraine first.
While SSRI antidepressants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, their role in migraine is a long, rocky road. The current medical hypothesis is that a deficiency of serotonin is somehow involved in migraine triptans, prescription-strength migraine treatment, activate a set of serotonin receptors in the brain. One would think that SSRIs, which look to increase serotonin, would help migraine, but it is not as simple as high serotonin is good and low serotonin is bad, explained Dr. Charles. These drugs react differently in each patient, and may deliver the opposite effect intended, leading to migraine.
Recommended Reading: Sonic Cold Brew Iced Coffee Caffeine
How To Reduce Caffeine Dependence
The best way to reduce caffeine dependency is gradually, ideally, by cutting down on caffeine intake by around each week.
Coffee, tea, or soda drinkers may find it easier to transition to decaffeinated versions of their favorite beverages. People could also try mixing decaf with caffeinated drinks and gradually increasing the proportion of decaf to caffeinated.
Several other tricks and lifestyle habits can also help people reduce their caffeine dependence, such as:
- replacing caffeinated foods and drinks with caffeine free alternatives
- staying hydrated
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.
You May Like: Does Diet Root Beer Have Caffeine
Natural Remedies For Migraines
There is a very complex relationship between migraine and coffee. Migraine cures, at this point, dont really exist. According to the National Institutes of Health, exactly why they occur, and exactly what can be done to prevent and treat them, is misunderstood. That said, some treatments have been observed to work in certain individuals. These treatments include both natural and pharmaceutical options.
The following natural options might help you deal with the migraine headaches, whether by preventing them or reducing the duration or symptom strength.
Caffeine Cessation: Could It Enhance Migraine Therapies
Researchers split the patients into 2 groups: abstinence and non-abstinence abstinence taken to mean complete cessation of caffeine in the patients diet. And to measure how effective the acute treatments were for the patients migraine attacks, the researchers used the migraine-ACT questionnaire. Ultimately, 108 patients were included in the study because they all took an acute medication at least 3 times during the study period.
A much higher percentage of caffeine-abstinent migraine patients reported excellent efficacy of their medications compared to the patients who kept consuming caffeine, at 72.2% vs 40.3% , respectively. In fact, caffeine abstinence was found to be independently associated with excellent efficacy , after controlling for a number of factors using the stepwise method, including:
- Chronic migraine
- Triptan use
- Preventive medications
The study findings can be viewed through open access in the Journal of Headache and Pain.4
You May Like: Does Diet Root Beer Have Caffeine
Precautions When Taking Fioricet
Fioricet is not safe for anyone with porphyria, a skin and nervous system condition.
Taking Fioricet can make you sleepy, dizzy, or tired, and these effects can last several hours. Avoid driving or doing any tasks that require mental focus or alertness. Talk with your doctor about the risks of Fioricet and how it may affect your daily activities.
Drinking alcohol with Fioricet can increase sedating side effects. Too much alcohol with Fioricet can also increase the risk of liver damage and toxicity.
Fioricet may not be right for you if you have certain health or medical conditions.
- history of depression, mental health conditions, suicidal thoughts
- history of substance use disorder
- breathing problems, such as asthma, lung disease, and emphysema
- kidney, liver, or stomach problems
- older age
What About Regular Use
Caffeinated beverages can be hard to part with even when you find relief from omitting them from your life. The good news is that unless you have a food sensitivity to the coffee, tea, soda or energy drink, you can likely add a small amount back to your routine. The key is ROUTINE. Most experts will advise you that if you must have daily caffeine, a consistent and low amount each day is the way to do it. Most agree that up to 200mg of caffeine per day is acceptable. The caffeine may even be helpful in the 4 ways described above.
An important tip about using caffeine regularly is to only drink caffeinated beverages in the morning. Sleep is critically important to keep the migraine brain calm and happy and caffeine is known to disrupt healthy sleep.
Don’t Miss: Does Thrive Have Caffeine In It
Caffeines Effect On Blood Flow In The Brain
While there is a conflicting research and theories, caffeine-induces changes in blood flow in different parts of the brain and may help quell a migraine attack.
Migraine as a vascular event was the accepted theory long ago but its overly simplistic and possibly not a primary factor. Migraine is no longer considered to be strictly a vascular issue and is beautifully explained in this video from the Association of Migraine Disorders about migraine pathophysiology.
Vasoconstriction likely helps some people with migraine but vasodilation is not considered to be the spark in the cascade of activity that brings on our symptoms.
Caffeine, migraine and adenosine
Caffeine may help by blunting the effect of a naturally occurring substance in the brain called adenosine. Adenosine which is present in higher amounts during a migraine attack, is an important neuromodulator. Caffeine likely helps bring relief through vasoconstriction for some of us.
Dropping Caffeine May Enhance Acute Migraine Treatment
While many people drink coffee on a daily basis, patients suffering from migraines may want to consider cutting it out of their diet.
Dropping caffeine may enhance medication performance.A new prospective study found when patients with migraine stopped drinking coffee, the efficacy of their medications improved significantly.1 The study is the first prospective evidence suggesting caffeine withdrawal can have a beneficial effect on acute migraine therapy.
Research about how caffeine affects migraines has been contradictory. Some studies have shown caffeine as an adjuvant actually could make analgesics more effective.2-3 On the other hand, many people who try to stop consuming caffeine may experience a caffeine-withdrawal headache, a typical problem.
In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the effect of caffeine cessation on the acute treatment of migraine, the study authors wrote. Based out of the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, the team of researchers recruited 113 migraine patients from March to December of 2015, making sure these were patients who had been consuming caffeine on a daily basis.
They excluded any patients who were suffering from concomitant medication overuse headache, an effort to limit any possible confounding factors. All the patients were educated to discontinue caffeine intake. At the follow-up visit, caffeine intake was evaluated based on headache diaries and interview, the authors described.
Recommended Reading: Where Is Super Coffee Sold
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!
How Does Caffeine Work On Migraine Pain
Caffeine affects a brain chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is found naturally in human cells. During a migraine attack, adenosine levels go up. This causes brain blood vessels to widen, reduce electrical activity, and change other body functions. Caffeine can block some of these actions, reducing head pain.1
Many studies have tried to reveal the secrets of how caffeine affects migraine attacks. One small study found caffeine worked better than a placebo and as well as acetaminophen for tension headaches.1
Don’t Miss: Root Beer And Caffeine
Does Caffeine Cause Migraine Getting To Know Caffeines Varied Effects On Migraine
Caffeine is often cited as a headache trigger, but for some people with migraines, a cup of coffee can offer some relief in the midst of an attack. Still, others who have caffeine frequently can suffer migraine attacks triggered by caffeine withdrawal when they skip their morning cup of joe. Often, the key determining factor is the quantity of caffeine consumed: many over-the-counter migraine and headache medications contain caffeine as a key active ingredient, but it is typically included for its role in aiding the bodys absorption of these medicines rather than as a treatment itself.
Still, the line between how much coffee, tea or soda will relieve a headache versus the quantity that will cause one can vary widely from person to person, and depends on a variety of factors. Read on for tips on how to determine how much caffeine is right for your migraine management plan.
Understanding How Caffeine Affects You
Caffeine Effects by Headache Type
How To Determine Your Caffeine Limits
Remember to be on the lookout for caffeine in unexpected places, including some teas, chocolate, non-cola sodas, and even decaf coffee. Check the ingredients in any medications you take. Also, consider that caffeine levels can vary widely between different types of coffee: a large McDonalds brew contains 133mg of caffeine, while a venti at Starbucks has roughly 415mg of caffeine.
Reducing Caffeine Reliance
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.
Recommended Reading: Does Caffeine Cause Dry Eyes
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
Caffeine As An Aid For Migraine Symptoms
Caffeine can help to relieve symptoms of a migraine attack and also speed up the pain-relieving effect of over-the-counter medications like Tylenol . According to the American Migraine Foundation, caffeine can enhance the bodys ability to absorb pain-relieving medications and is even included as an ingredient in migraine medications like Excedrin, Migranal, Anacin, and Midol.
A systematic review examined findings related to caffeine and headaches and found that compared to taking analgesic medications alone, people who ingested caffeine with analgesics like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and acetylsalicylic acid experienced more effective pain relief for their migraines or tension-type headaches.
Caffeine intake through coffee, tea, soft drinks, or energy drinks is a common home remedy for people who experience migraines, and it is sometimes recommended by doctors as a treatment for headaches .
I try to drink a lot of water, get some caffeine, and just do the best I can, wrote a member on MyMigraineTeam on dealing with a migraine attack.
There are several mechanisms by which caffeine may work to relieve migraine symptoms.
You May Like: How To Make Starbucks Via Instant