Is Caffeine a Migraine Cure Or Cause?
In this article, you would learn the effects of caffeine on migraine and how to consume caffeine if you suffer from the illness.
When you think of caffeine, do you think only of coffee? If so, you are partly right! Hidden caffeine lurks in many other foods and drinks, including sodas, chocolate, tea, and even some trendy "vitamin waters" and energy drinks. Caffeine is also found in many over-the-counter pain medications as well as in prescription medications. If you suffer from migraines, keeping track of your caffeine intake is particularly important, since this common substance can be a double-edged sword: Sometimes it helps with migraine headache pain; but if you take too much, it can make your migraines worse. Let’s find out - How?
Caffeine is both – your friend as well as an enemy
In the body, caffeine causes blood vessels to contract and speeds up the firing of nerve cells, which is why you feel energetic, focused and able to respond more quickly after your morning cup of coffee.
The paradox of caffeine is that while small amounts (about the equivalent of one 8 oz cup of coffee) taken at the beginning of a migraine, can help reduce pain, more is not better. If you consume too much caffeine every day, your body becomes dependent on it. Then, if you stop or dramatically cut down your consumption, the blood vessels in your brain will expand in the absence of caffeine, creating a withdrawal effect. The result can be severe "rebound headaches " that may even be worse than your original migraine, and are often hard to treat. Too much caffeine can also result in nervousness, agitation and even panic attacks. In addition to rebound headaches, caffeine withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, irritability, work difficulty, anxiety, depression, throbbing headache and muscle aches.
The bottom line: use caffeine wisely and in moderation
If you have migraines, use caffeine in moderation, and learn about the hidden caffeine you may be consuming without knowing it. A brewed cup of coffee (6oz.) contains about 60-100 mg. of caffeine. Soft drink beverages contain about 30-60 mg. per 8 oz. servings, but some contain three times that much caffeine. Do not use caffeine as a migraine treatment; instead, consult your doctor to get the right treatment for migraine. As with any migraine treatment, the most important thing you can do is to communicate regularly with your doctor and reassess your condition and treatment regularly. Don't try to treat your migraine on your own!
Here are some ways to prevent caffeine withdrawal-related rebound migraine headaches:
- Limit your daily consumption of caffeine to 2 cups/day.
- Excess use of caffeine over 500 mg daily (approximately 5 cups of coffee) is more likely to cause withdrawal headache. Some people may experience withdrawal symptoms at lower doses.
- Educate yourself about the sources of caffeine in foods and drinks.
- Gradually decrease your consumption of caffeine rather than stopping its use abruptly.
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