Caffeine and Migraines

Today I wanted to talk about the relationship between caffeine and migraines. In an earlier post, I told you the story of my first migraine. In that story, I mentioned that I ended up easing the pain of the migraine, unknowingly, by consuming a large cup of coffee. First of all, I love coffee, and I had no idea that this was the effect that it would give. I was actually really happy to find out that caffeine helped sometimes, because having relief once in a while is nice to have.  I have since used coffee as one of my first lines of treatment, alongside Tylenol or Advil. It has been effective sometimes, and more effective than anything else I’ve tried to date (since 2004!) I now even use energy drinks, or if I’m on the go, or don’t feel like drinking anything, caffeine pills. Unfortunately, with really bad migraines, it only lessens the pain a little, and does not get rid of the whole migraine, but I still find it worth a go.

You can get your caffeine from beverages such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, foods like chocolate, or pain relievers over the counter and prescription. When you have a migraine, your blood vessels will enlarge. Caffeine is a vasoconstriction, which means that it will cause your blood vessels to narrow which restricts blood flow, aiding in pain relief. In conjunction with aspirin and acetaminophen, the effect of pain relief of is increased by 40%. This is why I take my pain killers and have coffee at the same time. Also wanted to mention that I don’t take aspirin myself since I have been told by a couple of doctors that since I suffer from acid reflux, that aspirin can cause ulcers, especially with prolonged use.

This all sounds so great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, caffeine consumption comes with its drawbacks. Although caffeine doesn’t cause migraines directly, too much caffeine can trigger a rebound effect. A rebound migraine can occur when you are having withdrawals from caffeine, after continual use. It can cause migraines as well as tiredness. Although caffeine withdrawal sounds terrible, apparently only 2% of the population actually suffers from it.

Most people can intake levels of caffeine up to 200mg, the National Headache Foundation advises people with chronic migraines to avoid daily use. Uh oh! I drink it every day! What should I do? Maybe we should cut down together. If you’re with me, leave a me a comment! Let’s cut down on our caffeine. Don’t worry though, there’s no need to cut yourself off from caffeine completely, even just a small decrease would be fine. Everything in moderation.


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