Migraines can be a really painful, debilitating condition and those who suffer from it know the effect it can have on a person. When it comes to treating them, many people wonder if caffeine is a good option but studies show that this substance can be a trigger as much as it can be a treatment. You need to know in which cases you should avoid or limit its consumption or if it has a beneficial effect on your condition, which is what we’ll try to explain in this article.
The bad thing about migraines is that they can be triggered by a number of things including:
- fasting or missing a meal
- strong smells
- bright lights
- hormone level imbalances
Migraines can also be triggered by certain medications and there are some foods that in combination with other factors influence the onset of migraines.
The interesting thing about caffeine and migraines is that many drugs prescribed for this condition contain caffeine so even if you don’t drink tea or coffee on a regular basis you might be consuming it anyway.
The Pros and Cons of Caffeine
When a migraine sets in your blood vessels start enlarging. Caffeine can have a positive effect because it has vaso-constrictive properties which restrict your blood flow so if you ingest caffeine when suffering from a migraine it can ease the pain.
But can caffeine aggravate a migraine?
Caffeine is not a reliable treatment for migraines, for one, because in some cases it can even make the pain worse.
It can also have an addictive effect, meaning that you’ll need more to achieve the same results. But if you start increasing your caffeine intake it can have a harmful effect on other health aspects, interrupt your sleep patterns, cause tremors and nervousness. Studies have even identified caffeine use disorder as a major problem in many people. One study conducted in 2016 revealed that people suffering from migraines experienced a reduced migraine intensity after limiting their caffeine intake.
It’s not that you should avoid caffeine altogether, you can sip a cup of coffee or tea once you feel a migraine kicking in. It’s not that caffeine causes migraines and headache but it can cause a caffeine rebound, which happens when your caffeine intake is high and you experience withdrawal symptoms afterwards. It triggers severe side-effects, in some cases a pain worse than a headache or a migraine and almost 2% of the population deals with this issue.
If you wonder how much is enough or too much, you should know that there’s not an exact number of cups you are allowed to drink because that number varies from a person to a person. Every person reacts differently and for some drinking a cup of coffee every morning is the perfect dose, while others may suffer from rebound headache even if they drink one cup a week.
Is it safe to combine migraine medications with caffeine?
The next question is do you benefit more if you combine caffeine with migraine medications or should you stick to just caffeine. Combining caffeine with Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Bufferin (aspirin) can increase migraine relief by 40%. It was shown that caffeine in combination with these two drugs has a more powerful and faster-acting effect than just taking ibuprofen. Studies have shown that caffeine is more effective in combination with migraine relief drugs, but the dose should be 100mg or more so that you can feel a small but quite an effective increase.
Should you take caffeine for migraines? Is it safe?
You should consult with your doctor about whether you should take caffeine or avoid it if you suffer from migraines. You should have in mind that coffee and tea aren’t the only caffeine sources in our diet, caffeine can be found in other food items like:
- energy drinks
- some medications
- soft drinks
One study from 2016 headed by the co-director of the Headache Facial Pain Center, Vincent Martin, revealed that people suffering from migraines should limit their intake of caffeine to a maximum of 400mg a day.
The US Migraine Association advises that it’s not recommended that people treat migraines with caffeine alone. Even though some studies suggest that caffeine can increase the absorption of migraine drugs and medications, we need more evidence so that we can support this claim.
Article and image source: https://www.healthline.com