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Expert advice on advanced diagnosis and treatment of painful headaches and migraines from the leading headache clinic in New Jersey.

Caffeine Withdrawal: Headache Avoidance or Cause?

Gabriel Santos - Monday, June 27, 2016

For many Americans, caffeinated beverages are more than just a drink – they’re a way of life. From that morning cup of coffee to your afternoon pick me up with an energy drink, it can be easy to rely on caffeine just to get through an average day.

When you stop drinking caffeine, or you simply try to cut down on the amount you consume, you might notice some problematic symptoms. Many people believe that if they keep their caffeine doses similar – commonly by drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages around the same time each day – they can keep headaches at bay.

The truth is that it’s considerably more complex than that. Keep reading to learn more about caffeine withdrawal and whether that cup of coffee in your hand is keeping headaches away or causing them.

Can Caffeine Cure Headaches?

Caffeine commonly affects how people feel pain. This is a medical fact that any doctor could tell you about. They could also tell you that many over-the-counter pain relievers contain caffeine, particularly those designed for people who experience migraine pain. That doesn’t mean that caffeine is always the answer to a headache though.

The mechanism that makes coffee and caffeinated drinks helpful for curing headache pain greatly depends on how much caffeine you consume.

Regular Caffeine Exposure

Consuming caffeine can sometimes help to reduce headache pain, but for individuals who drink coffee or caffeinated beverages regularly, the body may not get the clue to stop headache pain. That’s because the body becomes accustomed to caffeine and develops a tolerance for it and the way it impacts your body.

If you drink coffee every day, there’s a good chance that drinking a cup of coffee won’t help a regular headache. Caffeine often isn’t a headache cure for regular caffeine consumers.

In fact, people who drink caffeine regularly may have other issues with the ingredient when it comes to headaches.

Caffeine Withdrawal

Individuals who drink coffee or caffeinated beverages regularly may experience headaches if they go too long without it. For example, if you’re used to waking up and drinking two cups of coffee each day, and you skip your coffee one day, you may notice a throbbing, mildly painful headache.

For most people, caffeine withdrawal isn’t too likely. However, if you drink caffeine regularly – particularly in large quantities – you may start to notice that you get headaches around the time that you’re due for your next caffeine jolt.

That can be a major problem for many people, especially after years and years of drinking caffeine to keep up with a high-stress job. If you need coffee on the hour, chances are headaches and caffeine withdrawal could become a major issue for you down the road.

The Big Picture

Most people shouldn’t treat headaches with coffee or blame their headaches on a lack of caffeine consumption. If you have migraines, a small amount of coffee may be able to help reduce the pain. Individuals who drink large quantities of caffeine may feel some withdrawal side effects when they go without it.

Most people don’t fit into those categories though. If you’re having regular headaches, it’s best to see a doctor who can find the root cause.

New Jersey Headache Institute

Please contact New Jersey Headache Institute to learn more about the causes of different types of headaches. We can also help with a wide variety of headache-related issues, from treating migraines to relieving chronic headaches and more. We’ve helped thousands of people with headache problems and we are confident that we can help you, too.




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