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Caffeine and Migraines

Can caffeine trigger migraine headaches?

Caffeine is a universal substance in majority of the countries around the world. It is abundant in coffee seeds, cocoa and tea leaves. In the America, most caffeine is consume through coffee drinking. Other sources would include chocolate, cocoa and tea. Majority of the soft drinks as well as various over-the-counter pain relievers such as Anacin contains caffeine.

The role of caffeine in triggering migraine headaches is most likely not directly related to the immediate consumption of this substance but rather to its sudden withdrawal of caffeine intake. Continuous and excessive consumption of caffeine can become addictive similar to heroin, cocaine, nicotine and so on.

Similar to nicotine, excessive intake of caffeine can cause excessive narrowing of blood vessels hence reducing blood flow to the brain which subsequently sets off vascular headaches.  On the other hand, the reduction of caffeine intake typically causes rebound dilation of the blood vessels which will then trigger withdrawal symptoms such as lassitude, headache, restlessness and even confusion.

Typical headaches undistinguished from typical migraine headaches can be triggered by this withdrawal state in people suffering from migraine. Frequently a cup of coffee will help to relieve symptoms of headache. The withdrawal headaches often starts to occur 16 hours after the last cup of coffee. It is quite common for the weekend to be a setting for caffeine withdrawal as usually most people tend to drink large amounts of caffeine during the work week and then reduce to a more modest amounts during the weekend.

Try to limit caffeine intake by not going beyond 300 – 400 milligrams of caffeine which is equivalent to about 5 cans of cola which contains sodas or about 4 cups of brewed coffee per day. Start by gradually reducing your caffeine intake over a 3 to 7 day period. It is also advisable to seek your doctor’s expertise on how to stop or reduce caffeine intake.