Interconnection between coffee, caffeine and headache

Next we’ll look at both aspects of caffeine – negative and positive – in connection with a headache, its occurrence and treatment. This article is helpful for people suffering from headaches and curious coffee amateurs.

What is headache? Headache is a disease that may occur in any moment of our lives. Sometimes headaches happen without a clear base (for example, you are overtired or overheated), occur quite suddenly and dramatically takes us down, or they can have chronic nature and are called migraines.. And it can be  sharp pain (no wonder they say: "head is splitting " or "the brain is boiling").

We’ve repeatedly talked about the effects of caffeine on the brain on the Health Effects of Coffee and also mentioned a headache in this regard. The fact is that caffeine can be both a headache culprit and a cure for various kinds of headaches, including migraine.

Does caffeine help to kill headaches?

When you suffer from a headache, the first thing that comes to mind is to get aspirin or acetaminophen from the medicine box (actually, there is a huge amount of pain killers). However, it is worth mentioning that caffeine adds  30-50% to the effect of medicines as a brain stimulator. It’s no secret that caffeine is also effective in relieving headaches, no wonder it belongs to analgesics and is used as a component for a variety of medications such as Excedrin, Anacin, Midol, Fioricet, Migranal and so on.

People with migraines noted the medicinal properties of caffeine for its treatment Elderly people often face a disease called hypnic headaches. This acute pain may occur in the middle of the night, which is especially frustrating as the person wakes up from a sharp pain in the brain and stays up all night. In such cases, doctors recommend drinking a cup of coffee right before going to bed, and it helps to avoid hypnic headaches.

Note. Hereinafter, our tips are not a guide to action. If you have learned for yourself useful information on the website, you should consult with a doctor as each case has its own peculiarities. The same rule applies even to “simple” headache treatment. The first action is trip to the doctor, and then – to follow our advice.

Caffeine as a migraine and headache cause

And now let's look at  caffeine from a different perspective. Can coffee cause headaches, is  coffee drinking dangerous if you periodically observe migraine symptoms? The answers are not so ro sy: in spite of its healing properties, caffeine can have a negative impact on the brain, and yes, caffeine causes headaches.

What way? Here's the thing. When caffeine gets into the blood, it begins to narrow blood vessels that are close to the brain. Upon coffee (or other sources of caffeine) intake, the opposite effect occurs: the vessels conveying blood to the brain begin tapering. Since caffeine constricts blood vessels that surround your brain as you stop drinking coffee, they expand again. As a result, the person experiences a headache.

A very important aspect is how often you take caffeine. Caffeine becomes a habit with time, and the body can  regard it as a natural state (in other words, the brain develops tolerance and even dependence). Coffee lover feels the need for large quantities of coffee in order to achieve the desired effect. If you drink coffee to kill migraine, in every cycle you need more and more caffeine.

Another case of disservice is abuse of drugs. Caffeine combined with medications doesn’t increase efficacy causing the opposite effect. So, if you have a headache and begin to extinguish the pain with painkillers and drinking coffee in unlimited quantities, it is likely that the body won’t thank you and willexperience severe stress and all related side effects.

If you drink coffee too often, headache symptoms can only become more frequent and even develop into a migraine. If migraine occurs over a week, drinking coffee for 3 days can cause addiction and increased migraines.

Few tips to avoid headaches

  1. Do not experiment with medication dosages, you should always know limitations. Carefully read the drugs instructions which clearly state:how many and when to take pills, which contraindications and side effects they have. One or another antibiotic may be incompatible with caffeine.
  2. Perhaps your physical condition doesn’t allow to take caffeine to relieve a headache. Consult with physicians, make conclusions and watch when you have a headache, whether there is a pattern, for example, headache after too much caffeine intake.
  3. If you plan to give up caffeine, do not make it all of a sudden, it can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The best way is to get rid of dependence gradually, over weeks. If you drastically restrict your diet, giving up coffee, the brain may be "offended" and express its displeasure in the form of headache.
  4. It’s no surprise that the best way to avoid headaches is to lead a healthy lifestyle. It is important to follow the simple rules: sleep well, eat right, do not overwork and try to avoid stressful situations.

So, caffeine is friend or foe of headache?

After considering both aspects of the stimulant you have seen that caffeine can be used as a headache medicine and preventer with equal success. The result depends on:

  1. Frequency of caffeine intake
  2. Nature of the headaches
  3. Your individual characteristics

It is clear that moderate and reasonable approach is the main thing that makes caffeine safe and beneficial for various headaches treatment.

Russian version of the article is available!