Does Caffeine Trigger Or Treat Migraines
We all love coffee.
At least the great majority of people does. In fact, the empowering dark liquid is one of the most popular beverages in the world.
And, the coffees popularity and diversity of our entire coffee universe is still continuing to grow.
Throughout our history of coffee, many great coffee drinks and techniques have been invented. There are various deliciously tasting coffee creations for us to choose from.
One of the most important and well-known ingredients of coffee is caffeine.
For many people, coffee and essentially its ingredient, caffeine in particular, has become a central role in their daily lives. The energizing stimulant helps us getting through our days more efficiently.
But, there are also quite a lot concerns about caffeine. Especially, regarding overdose use, addictive and withdrawal symptoms.
While caffeine is usually fine for the vast majority of people. Some people can experience milder but also stronger symptoms, such as migraines.
In general, caffeine can be both a treatment and a trigger for migraines.
It may be helpful in treating the condition of having migraines. If you know you are benefitting from using caffeine or not.
However, for some people should maybe better limit their caffeine consumption or even avoid it at all.
Here is everything you need to know about the connection of caffeine and migraines.
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.”
Is Your Headache Related To Caffeine Withdrawal
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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How Does Caffeine Affect Migraines
I heard that drinking caffeinated beverages brings on migraine headaches, but it makes mine better. Whats the story here?
Andrew Weil, M.D. | September 24, 2019
The role of caffeine in migraines is complex and can vary from person to person. However, new research suggests that the amount of caffeine you ingest on any given day may determine whether or not you develop a migraine headache. Researchers at Bostons Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Womens Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found that drinking one to two servings of caffeinated drinks arent linked with experiencing these headaches the same day, but three or more servings on one day may raise the risk of developing a migraine that day or the following day.
Study leader Elizabeth Mostofsky, Sc.D. noted that, While some potential triggers such as lack of sleep may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex, because it may trigger an attack but also helps control symptoms. Caffeines impact depends both on dose and on frequency of consumption. She added that until now there have been few studies on the immediate risk of migraines following the intake of caffeinated drinks so it has been difficult to recommend how much caffeine migraine patients can safely consume.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
To Drink Coffee Or Not To Drink Coffee
Quitting coffee cold turkey isnât necessarily the answer since caffeine affects everyone differently, but having a few alternatives can certainly help you avoid dependency or suffer from a rebound headache. Use a migraine tracking app or journal to carefully monitor your caffeine intake and find the right levels for youâso you can live your best, headache-free life.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
How Does Caffeine Treat Headaches
Caffeine is a common ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter headache medications . Caffeine additives make pain relievers 40% more effective in treating headaches. Caffeine also helps the body absorb headache drugs more quickly, bringing faster relief. By adding caffeine and, in turn, taking less medication, you can reduce the risk for potential side effects and possible drug addiction.
Common Over-the-Counter Drugs Containing Caffeine
- Actamin Super: 65.4 mg
- Anacin Maximum Strength: 32 mg
- Anacin Tablets and Caplets: 32 mg
- Aspirin-Free Excedrin Caplets: 65 mg
- Bayer Select Maximum Strength Headache Pain Relief: 65.4 mg
- Dristan Capsules: 16 mg
- Excedrin Extra Strength Caplets and Tablets: 65 mg
- Goodys Extra Strength Tablets: 16.25 mg
- Goodys Headache Powder: 32.5 mg
- Midol Menstrual Maximum Strength Caplets: 60 mg
- Midol for Cramps Maximum Strength Caplets: 32.4 mg
- NoDoz: 200 mg
- Chocolate-covered graham crackers
- Chocolate ice cream or pudding
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.
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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.
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
How Caffeine May Trigger Migraine
But over time, as you build a tolerance to the drug, you also build dependency. That means that when you dont take in regular and increasing amounts of caffeine, you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, which includes headache as the blood vessels around your brain expand.
Scientists believe the way caffeine acts on your brain chemicals, physiology, and nerves may explain how the drug manages to sometimes help alleviate headache pain and other times trigger it.
Caffeine changes the way a substance in your brain, called adenosine, works. Adenosine sticks to certain receptors some of your brain cells have and is responsible for changes in brain activity, some parts of movement and sleep, and the temporary expansion of blood vessels.
Researchers also know adenosine can also trigger migraines if injected into your body. Since caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, researchers theorize it might help ease headache pain by preventing the widening of the blood vessels that feed your brain.
At the same time, chronic use of caffeine alters the size of your blood vessels, making them wider as a result of stretching, and it also changes the number of adenosine receptors you have and how they work, making you more susceptible to migraines.
Whats more? Researchers have found caffeine actively triggers pain by lowering your pain tolerance and increasing your nervous systems sensitivity to pain. When your blood vessels expand, they put pressure on the nerves surrounding your brain.
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What Is A Caffeine Headache
A caffeine headache occurs when someone who consumes caffeine regularly skips their usual dose. This doesnt only happen to people who drink excessive amounts of caffeine every day. Even someone who just has one small cup of coffee each morning can experience caffeine headaches.
FYI, the FDA says about four 8-ounce cups of coffee or 400 milligrams a day is a safe amount to consume.
The Causes Of Caffeine Headaches
When we drink coffee, or any caffeinated beverages the caffeine causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. When you stop the caffeine intake, the blood vessels in the brain dilate. This increases the blood flow and can trigger a headache. If you decide to drink caffeine, it is recommended that you increase your water consumption to compensate for its dehydration effects.
Although a caffeine headache is most commonly caused by withdrawal, it can also be triggered by excessive intake, medication overuse, caffeine sensitivity, allergic reaction, or a fluctuation of caffeine consumption from day to day.
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Try Using Peppermint Essential Oil
For some natural relief, try applying diluted peppermint essential oil to your temples. Some research says that menthol can reduce inflammation and relax tight muscles, soothing a headache.
One 2016 study even found that peppermint oil can be just as effective as acetaminophen at relieving tension headaches. Hey, its worth trying.
You can dilute about 15 to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil, such as jojoba. Apply to your temples.
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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Breaking Down The Data
A sample of 98 adults with frequent episodic migraines completed electronic diaries each morning and evening every day for six weeks. The total servings of caffeinated coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks consumed were recorded each day, along with twice daily headache reports documenting the onset, duration, intensity and medications used for each migraine since the previous diary entry. Other common migraine triggers that each participant normally experiences was recorded as well.
A self-matched analysis was used to evaluate the linkbetween caffeinated drinks and migraines on the same or following day.Researchers compared each participants occurrence of migraines on days withand without caffeine intake, eliminating the chance of factors such as age,sex, and other behavioral and environmental factors to intrude with data. Thisstrategy also accommodated for various caffeine dosages and serving sizesconsumed by participants.
The end result? For regular caffeine consumers, one to two servings thats 8 oz. of coffee, 6 oz. of tea, 12 oz. of soda, or 2 oz. of energy drink had no effect on migraines on the same or following day. Headaches were more often onset by three or more servings of caffeinated drinks for regular consumers, and one to two servings for those who rarely consume caffeine.
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.
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So How Exactly Does Caffeine Treat Migraines
Common methods of reducing migraines include taking caffeine out of the diet, avoiding overuse of pain medications and taking medications that are designed for those who have frequent migraines. Learn how to prevent migraines with help from a doctor and pediatrician in this free video on migraine headache treatments..Expert: Dr. David Hill.Contact: www.capefearpediatrics.com.Bio: Dr. David Hill is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Internal Medicine and Pediatrics combined residency..Filmmaker: Reel Media LLC.Series Description: Having a headache can be one of the most uncomfortable and distracting ailments. Learn great headache remedies with help from a doctor and pediatrician in this free video series on migraine headache treatments.
Video taken from the channel: ehowhealth
Caffeine can cause migraines, but in brief doses, it can also help to relieve recurrent migraine headaches. Find out how to treat migraine headaches with help from a doctor and pediatrician in this free video on migraine headache treatments..Expert: Dr. David Hill.Contact: www.capefearpediatrics.com.Bio: Dr. David Hill is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Internal Medicine and Pediatrics combined residency..Filmmaker: Reel Media LLC.Series Description: Having a headache can be one of the most uncomfortable and distracting ailments. Learn great headache remedies with help from a doctor and pediatrician in this free video series on migraine headache treatments.
Study: Excess Caffeine Intake Is A Migraine Trigger
In a study in The American Journal of Medicine, 98 participants with episodic migraine completed an electronic diary each morning and evening for six weeks.
Within the diary, the participants reported their caffeinated beverage intake, as well as their migraine characteristics and other lifestyle factors .
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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
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.
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