Caffeine As A Risk Factor For Chronic Migraine
Theres evidence that too much caffeine consumption is a risk factor for developing chronic migraine, says Spears.
Chronic migraine is when a person experiences 15 or more days per month of headache with migrainous features, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
Its estimated that chronic migraine affects about 1 to 2 percent of the general population and close to 8 percent of people with migraine. Each year approximately 3 percent of people with episodic migraine convert to having chronic migraine each year, according to a paper published in 2016 in the Nature Reviews Neurology.
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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.
Migraine Headaches: Still Mysterious After All These Years
Migraine headaches are quite common: more than a billion people reportedly suffer from migraines worldwide. Yet, the cause has long been a mystery and it still is.
Until recently, the going theory was that blood vessels around the brain go into spasm, temporarily constricting and limiting blood flow. Then, when the blood vessels open up, the rush of incoming blood flow leads to the actual headache.
That theory has fallen out of favor. Now, the thinking is that migraines are due to waves of electrical activity spreading across the outer portions of the brain, leading to inflammation and overreactive nerve cells that send inappropriate pain signals. Why this begins in the first place is unknown.
Migraines tend to run in families, so genetic factors are likely important. In addition, chemical messengers within the brain, such as serotonin, may also play a central role in the development of migraines, though the mechanisms remain uncertain.
People prone to migraines may experience more headaches after coffee consumption , but coffee itself, or the caffeine it contains, is not considered the actual cause of migraines. Certain foods or drinks like coffee are thought to trigger episodes of migraine, but the true cause is not known.
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Can Caffeine Ease Migraine Attacks
A variety of drugs used to treat headaches, such as Excedrin, Anacin, and Midol, contain caffeine.
This is because caffeine may reduce the sensation of pain through its effects on adenosine receptors, which influence pain signaling in the brain.
While research around caffeine and migraine is still ongoing, its thought that since adenosine is involved in the physiological processes associated with migraine attacks, caffeine may be able to reduce some of the pain associated with them via its effect on adenosine receptors.
However, the amount of caffeine consumed and the frequency of consumption, have a lot to do with its beneficial effects.
Why Is Caffeine Bad For Migraines
Caffeine is bad for a migraine because it is a stimulant. There are several types of migraines, the most common being basilar migraines. For migraine suffers, the symptoms include sensitivity to light, noise, and smells extreme fatigue and weakness vertigo and nausea. In cases of severe migraines, there is also severe pain. The pain can occur on one side or both sides of the head. Caffeine can trigger migraines in those who have a history of them. It can also trigger migraines in those who have never had a migraine before. Caffeine can also be in medications that one might take to cope with common allergies or the flu. If you are a person that has migraines, you are better off not taking any caffeine products. The best thing to do is to stay away from them, or you will risk having to deal with a migraine in the middle of the day..
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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.
The Caffeine’s Effects Are In General Opposite To The Effects Of Adenosine
The brain levels of adenosine in cats and rodents in resting physiological condition have been estimated to 30200 nM/L, concentrations sufficient to activate A1, A2A and possibly A3 receptors if numerous on the cells , but in most tissues the adenosine signaling is not very prominent . Even low concentrations of caffeine, such as 110 M achieved after consumption of a single cup of coffee, result in significant antagonism of adenosine A1 and A2A receptors and may result in increased alertness .
Sleep and Arousal
It is clear that both adenosine and blockade of adenosine by caffeine may cause anti-nociception. Since the nanomolar affinities of adenosine for A1R and A2AR are almost the same, this indicates a fine balanced modulation of the pain processing , making it very difficult to predict the net effects of caffeine on nociception in humans.
Caffeine Overuse and Withdrawal
Further, repeated exposure to caffeine may lead to rapid development of tolerance, preferentially to the A1-blocking effect, and in some cases it even may result in opposite effects than expected . By drinking three to four cups of coffee regularly around 50% A1 and A2A receptor occupancy can be achieved for several hours, and many of the actions of caffeine are due to this AR blockade .
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How Much Caffeine Is Too Much Caffeine
Did you know the average 8oz cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine? For healthy adults, the recommended maximum dose per day is 400mg of caffeine.4
Tip: Dont just count your morning cups of Joe. There are over 800 products that contain some level of caffeine including tea and chocolate-based beverages and products, sodas, energy shots, pain relief medications, and workout supplements.5
Caffeine And Primary Headachesfriend Or Foe
- 1Nordland Hospital Trust, Bodø, Norway
- 2Institute of Clinical Medicine, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
- 3Headache Research, Wolfson CARD, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
- 4The Headache Centre, Guy’s and St Thomas’, NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
Background: The actions of caffeine as an antagonist of adenosine receptors have been extensively studied, and there is no doubt that both daily and sporadic dietary consumption of caffeine has substantial biological effects on the nervous system. Caffeine influences headaches, the migraine syndrome in particular, but how is unclear.
Materials and Methods: This is a narrative review based on selected articles from an extensive literature search. The aim of this study is to elucidate and discuss how caffeine may affect the migraine syndrome and discuss the potential pathophysiological pathways involved.
In general, chronic consumption of caffeine seems to increase the burden of migraine, but a protective effect as an acute treatment or in severely affected patients cannot be excluded. Future clinical trials should explore the relationship between caffeine withdrawal and migraine, and investigate the effects of long-term elimination.
John Addington Symonds, the Goulstonian lecture for 1858
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Can Caffeine Cause Headaches
If you consistently drink more than two regular-sized caffeinated beverages a day, however, you may run into trouble when you don’t get your fix, says Dr. Mays. “If you do that on a regular basis and then all of a sudden stop it, the withdrawal from the caffeine can actually trigger a migraine,” she explains. This headache can occur within just 24 hours after your last caffeine intake and can last up to seven days if you don’t get a hit of the chemical, according to research published in the journal Nutrients. The higher your baseline level of caffeine, the higher the chances you’ll suffer a withdrawal headache, per the journal.
The reason: “If your body gets so used to having caffeine around every single day and you stop having caffeine around, then those blood vessels get engorged and irritated,” says Dr. Cooper. In turn, you’re left with a throbbing headache that can only be soothed with a cup of Joe. “If someone is used to drinking three Monster drinks a day and then they get stranded on a desert island for a week and a half, they’re going to have a pretty intense headache,” he jokes.
Does Caffeine Trigger Or Treat Headaches
Caffeine is something that on average 90% of Americans enjoy, but it can also be a headache trigger or headache inhibitor. Caffeine is all around us, and can be found in a number of beverages, chocolate and even in some popular over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers, but how is it affecting our heads?
The Buzz on Caffeine
Before a headache or migraine, blood vessels tend to enlarge, but caffeine has vasoconstrictive properties that cause the blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow, which can aid in head pain relief. When caffeine is added to the combination of acetaminophen and aspirin, the pain relieving effect is increased by 40%. If you feel a headache coming on, a cup of joe might lessen the severity of your symptoms.
On the other hand, though caffeine does not directly cause headache, too much of the substance can trigger caffeine rebound. A caffeine rebound headache occurs from withdrawals of caffeine after a sufferer continually consumes too much of it. Though the physical side effects can be severe, only 2% of the population suffers from caffeine rebound.
Although most headache sufferers can consume up to 200 mg. per day, the NHF advises patients with frequent headaches to avoid daily use. But this doesnt mean you have to cut your caffeine off, try slowly decreasing your intake, and remember its always best to enjoy in moderation.
PRODUCT MILLIGRAMS OF CAFFEINE
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Can Caffeine Help Migraines
No, caffeine is not a good treatment for migraines. Despite the fact that caffeine may be able to help people with tension headaches, it can actually make migraine symptoms worse. It triggers blood vessel constriction, which can make headaches feel worse and more painful. When a person has a migraine, they will experience intense throbbing, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea, and caffeine can only make these symptoms worse. While stopping caffeine altogether may be the worst idea and cause the most pain, it is important to know that the caffeine withdrawal symptoms can be just as painful as an actual migraine. Be sure to consult your doctor about the best ways to get rid of migraines for good..
Is Caffeine Your Migraines Friend Or Foe
Wondering does caffeine help or heighten your migraine headache? Well, it depends. How much caffeine have you consumed today? What is your tolerance? Do you need a triple espresso shot latte or a mild cup of Joe to get your day going? Figuring out if caffeine is a trigger or a tool to relieving your migraines can be a bit tricky. Were here to break it down for you. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about migraines.
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Caffeine As A Migraine Trigger
Although caffeine helps to relieve symptoms in some people with migraines, it can trigger migraine attacks and symptoms in other people. Dietary triggers are not the most common types of triggers for migraines, but studies show that about 6.3 percent to 14.5 percent of people with migraines report caffeine or coffee to be one of their triggers.
The main way that caffeine can trigger a headache is due to dehydration. Caffeine can trigger migraines after it is ingested, or people may experience caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine has also been shown to increase the risk for a worsening migraine condition from episodic migraines to chronic migraines.
One MyMigraineTeam member said, By using caffeine for migraines, you run the risk of a bounce-back headache, and then the pain is even worse.
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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What Causes Migraine Attacks
People living with migraine typically deal with recurrent, pulsating headaches that can be severe.
These headaches can last anywhere from a few hours to almost 3 days and sometimes include symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.
While researchers are still trying to get to the bottom of why migraine attacks happen, they can be caused by a variety of known triggers, including:
- changes in the weather
Medications used to treat migraine also sometimes cause more attacks if theyre used more than 10 days out of the month.
Stimulate Those Pressure Points
Acupressure is a type of traditional Chinese medicine in which you apply pressure to certain points on your body. Its been found to sometimes relieve headaches and ease muscle tension.
A 2010 study found that one month of acupressure treatment relieved chronic headaches better than muscle relaxants did.
There are several pressure points that you can try stimulating for headache relief. More study is required to determine whether these actually work. It couldnt hurt to try, right?
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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
So Can Caffeine Really Cause Migraine Attacks
The short answer? Yes.
Let us explain: While studies have found no proof that drinking caffeine will automatically trigger an attack, Dr. Crystal warns that the stimulant is still one to be wary of.
âCaffeine withdrawal is a known trigger for migraine and other headache types, and caffeine itself may trigger attacks,â Dr. Crystal says.
Migraine triggers are unique for everyone, but studies show that when it comes to caffeine, the amount consumed may have more weight in whether or not you develop a headache. Research from the American Journal of Medicine shows that three or more servings of caffeinated beverages a day is associated with developing a headache in individuals who experience episodic migraine.
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Whats The Link Between Caffeine And Migraine
Caffeine has long been associated with migraine, but whether its more of a trigger or a cure remains unclear.
Caffeine is commonly used in headache and migraine medications, as it helps reduce inflammation and enhances the effects of the other active ingredients. It seems to relieve acute pain in many people, particularly those in the middle of an attack.
But in some cases, it appears that caffeine may trigger a migraine episode. Could the link be due to caffeine overconsumption or withdrawal? Or are some people simply more sensitive to it?
Researchers have looked into this complex relationship, but there are no cut-and-dry answers.
In a , 98 participants with frequent migraine episodes kept a 6-week food journal in which they recorded how often they consumed caffeinated beverages.
The results showed:
- It appears to take less caffeine to trigger a headache in people who dont consume it very often. For instance, just one or two cups of a caffeinated drink increased the risk of migraine in participants who typically consumed less than one serving a day.
- The chances of having a migraine episode increased for participants consuming three or more caffeinated beverages a day, but not for those drinking one to two servings a day. These effects lasted throughout the day.
- The association between caffeine and migraine holds true even after factoring in alcohol use, physical activity, and sleeping patterns.