Who all know what 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione is? Well, don’t bother yourself browsing, it is caffeine. Caffeine is the most commonly used DRUG, (don’t raise your eyebrows) yes, it is characterized as a drug which is often self-administered and found in foods & beverages like coffee, cola, tea and chocolate. Around 90% of the population across the globe use caffeine in one or the other form. Among which coffee and tea are the primary sources.
Does Caffeine Trigger or Relieve a Headache?
Caffeine is known to have both positive and negative effects on headaches. Like, caffeine is a commonly used ingredient in headache medicines because it has the ability to help relieve headaches. Simultaneously, regular caffeine consumption, be it through any form, leads to physical dependence on caffeine, which when stopped or reduced manifests as withdrawal symptoms like a headache. When a caffeine user abruptly stops or there is a sudden reduction in daily consumption of caffeine their symptoms are no less than a smoker undergoing nicotine withdrawal.
Understanding the role of caffeine in:
1. Treating a headache
When you have a headache, blood vessels tend to swell which causes an increase in the blood flow to the brain. This flow puts pressure on the surrounding nerves, sending a pain signal to the brain, triggering a headache. So when you have a cup of coffee, it causes vasoconstriction, meaning narrowing of the blood vessels, therein aiding in the treatment of a headache.
2. Triggering a headache
When you consume caffeine on a regular basis, you become dependent on it. So if you stop taking caffeine, then the blood vessels become enlarged which causes an increase in the blood flow to the brain, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves. This leads to a headache, which is known as caffeine withdrawal headache. This effect can last for few weeks till the body gets adjusted to no caffeine in the blood.
What Is Caffeine Withdrawal Headache?
A diffuse throbbing headache is a characteristic feature of caffeine withdrawal headache. It usually starts from behind the eyes and then works its way up to the front of the forehead, progressing further, it becomes quite debilitating. A caffeine withdrawal headache usually persists for a week or 10 days. It is the time when the body adjusts or adapt itself to not having caffeine. It is not necessary that a heavy caffeine user only experiences such headache. Even a person consuming as little as a small cup of coffee daily can have a withdrawal headache if it is stopped abruptly.
Coffee: To Drink or Not To Drink?
After understanding the connect of caffeine and headache, one question must be bothering you “To have caffeine or not to have caffeine?” Let’s simplify it for you.
1. Right dosing is the key
As discussed earlier, caffeine is a drug and just like any other drug caffeine also has the dosage limit. Approximately 400mg/day is declared safe for consumption in adults, which is roughly 4 cups of coffee. So, where does the problem arise? It arises when you increase the dose on a given day.
Consume about the same amount of caffeine every day. Don’t vary consumption by any more than about 50mg each and every day, even on the weekends.
2. Identify the reason for having caffeine
Knowing the reason to have caffeine is very important because that’s where you can break this vicious cycle. Is it the taste that drives you to rush for a cup of coffee, or to cope up with office stress or is it just a shot of milk and sugar that heads you towards itself? Identifying the reason and switching to decaf options would help you stay in control.
How to cure caffeine withdrawal headache?
1. Have a precise count of caffeine intake.
2. Reduce the intake gradually.
3. Switch to Decaf coffee (which typically has only 2-5mg of caffeine).
4. Drink peppermint tea.
5. Keep yourself relaxed by having a massage, meditation or some physical workout.
6. Try to have a good 6-8 hours sleep daily.
7. Drink plenty of water.
8. Always have caffeine free painkillers.
Changing the caffeine habit is the best alternative to avoid the “caffeine withdrawal headache”. So, Keep a count of caffeine and stay headache free!!