Does Coffee Fix Headache? (In-depth Explanation)

Coffee

Your morning cup of joe is probably the best thing to perk up your body and prepare the mind for a wonderful start to the day. Coffee has become an important part of the morning routine.

Many people tend to skip their meals but probably not going to miss a cup of the caffeinated beverage whatsoever.

For regular consumers, coffee serves as a wonderful therapy for gaining boost and better endurance. However many have complained that when they don’t drink the coffee, they feel dull and even experience headaches.

On the other hand, many consumers claim that coffee helped them in fixing their headaches.

So does coffee really fix people’s headaches?

Short answer: Moderate consumption of coffee helps in fixing headaches due to the caffeine’s vasoconstrictive effect. However, for habitual drinkers, the effectiveness of caffeine can get dull with an increased volume of caffeine consumption.

For a better understanding of the topic, please continue your reading through the following sections.

What Does a Caffeine Headache Feel Like?

The headache caused due to caffeine withdrawal gives a feeling of tickling pain and pressure in your brain. Gradually, the pain may move to the rest of the body, causing a throbbing sensation.

Caffeine headache is mainly the headache that is caused as a symptom of caffeine withdrawal.

Caffeine narrows the blood vessels in the brain during consumption. When the consumption is over, the blood vessels get widened and the resulting boost triggers a headache, wanting another boost of the caffeine.

You can read more about caffeine headaches here if you’re interested to know more.

What Are The Symptoms Of Caffeine Withdrawal?

The most common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are usually headaches, anxiety, irritability, and jitteriness. However, the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are more intense in the case of sensitive people since their body takes a longer period to metabolize the changes.

For habitual drinkers, it’s easy to get used to the effects of the stimulant and whenever you skip the drink, you get withdrawal.

Usually, if you stop taking caffeine, your body will need at least 12 to 14 hours to adjust to the withdrawal.

Some of the frequently experienced symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty in Concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed Mood
  • Irritability
  • Tremors

Even if you are taking only a small portion of a cup every day, your body tends to develop an increased tolerance. So the next day you skip your drink, you may either get upset for an unknown reason or get hit by a sudden headache.

How Long Do Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches Last?

Headache due to caffeine withdrawal.
Caffeine withdrawal headache may last for about 2-9 days depending on the sensitivity.

The International Headache Society regarded caffeine withdrawal headache as the one that develops within 24 hours of the last caffeine consumption and may go away after 7 consecutive days.

Studies show that most people may catch the withdrawal symptoms within the first 12 hours of curbing caffeine and if the headache starts by this time, it may last for the next 2-9 days. The peak of this withdrawal effect usually stays between the first 24 and 51 hours.

This is because when your body gets accustomed to the caffeine dose, once you stop the consumption your adenosine fatigue blocking inducing effects are reduced.

Regular consumption of caffeine develops additional adenosine receptors and those receptors become less sensitive to the caffeine’s stimulating effects. Over time, your body starts to crave more doses, forming a sense of dependence.

Can Too Much Caffeine Cause Headaches?

Too much caffeine is not what causes headaches, but the increased tolerance to caffeine aids in triggering headaches in an individual.

When coffee is consumed regularly, the body builds a sense of dependency on the beverage. This is why your body increases its caffeine tolerance. The caffeine then narrows the blood vessels surrounding the brain and whenever the consumption stopped, the vessel gets enlarged again.

As a result, an abrupt increase in blood flow and the pressure surrounding the brain nerves trigger the caffeine withdrawal symptoms of headaches.

Moreover, people who are hypersensitive tend to consume larger doses (usually more than 400-500 mg) of caffeine to get the desired boost. Such a high dose of caffeine also triggers unwanted headaches after the caffeine quantity falls in the bloodstream.

Simply put, as your body gets dependent on the caffeine content over time, your brain craves more and more of the stimulant. As soon as the consumption is thus stopped, you get the unwanted sensation of tickling in your head, causing a headache.

Get to know how much caffeine can be too much for you.

Can Coffee Help You With Your Headache?

Coffee can help you with your headache. Caffeine is widely used as a pain reliever and has an effective rate in treating tension headache, migraine, and inflammation.

During headaches, the blood vessels swell and increase the blood flow around the brain. The overall pressure on the surrounding nerves stimulates the pain. When consumed in a moderate amount, coffee may aid in relieving acute headaches. The vasoconstrictive properties of caffeine help in alleviating the pain.

When consumed with pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin, caffeine helps in better absorption of the nutrients from the medication and helps in curing the headache faster.

Caffeine is considered an effective and first-line treatment option for people with hypnic headaches. Patients have also reported in affirmation of a simple black coffee to be a curative measure for the sudden onset of such headaches.

Can Coffee Trigger Migraines?

a person sitting on a couch experiencing a migraine

Coffee can trigger migraines in two ways:

  1. By drinking the coffee with significant doses of caffeine
  2. By experiencing caffeine withdrawal due to skipping the coffee consumption

The direct connection between caffeine and migraine headache is still uncertain.

However, a study published by the American Journal of Medicine showed that while surveying the diet dairy of 98 people with migraines headache, it was found that the occurrence of the headache increased in the case of those who used to drink 3-4 caffeinated beverages in a single day.

In the case of a non-habitual drinker, less caffeine content was required to trigger a headache. Factors like age, body condition, physical activity, and alcohol consumption also had a relevant connection in the preassumed findings.

My two cents knowledge surely understands that even if the coffee doesn’t create migraine attacks in a healthy individual, it can surely make the symptoms worse in case of people already having the headache issue.

So, if you feel your body isn’t getting used to the caffeinated boost and you feel uneasy, cut down your coffee.

Will Coffee Make Your Headache Worse?

Unfortunately, what makes coffee a good remedy for pain relief can also be the cause behind triggering the headaches.

On regular consumption, the caffeine narrows the blood vessels surrounding your brain and the abrupt curb of the stimulant expands them again, making your headache worse.

Multiple cups of coffee develop an increasing level of tolerance and your body desires more and more cups on regular basis to boost the desired effect. Each time you deprive your body of the caffeine dose, the body exert the ‘rebound effect’ which is one of the main cause of withdrawal symptom.

This video explains why caffeine withdrawal triggers headache pain.

Caffeine overdose is another reason for causing headaches. Remember that your cup of joe isn’t the only food item that contains caffeine. Chocolates, energy bark, sparkling water, cakes, teas, sodas, etc all contain caffeine in different proportions.

Having coffee along with other caffeinated food in your diet may enhance the severity of the pain.

So the caffeine that helps in eradicating the headache incase of certain people may also be the cause of the same in others.

Can A Single Cup of Coffee Fix Headache?

a cup of coffee on a wooden table

A single cup of coffee with moderate caffeine quantity can help in relieving the pain from headaches.

The answer to this is relative since the caffeine content in different varieties of coffee differs owing to differences in the serving size.

Let’s have a look at the caffeine content of some popular coffee varieties:

Type of CoffeeServing SizeCaffeine Per Serving
Cold Brew Coffee1 cup100 mg
Brewed Coffee1 cup95 mg
Espresso1 shot63-120 mg
Latte1 cup63-126 mg
Americano 1 cup94-150 mg
Mocha1 cup63-126 mg
Highly Caffeinated Coffee (Death Wish Coffee, Biohazard Coffee, etc)1.5 cup702-928 mg
Caffeine quantities differ in different serving sizes of coffee varieties.

The relation between caffeine and headache is quite debatable since it can both trigger and cure pain.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Due to its vasoconstriction properties, it can constrict vessels and reduces blood flow to the brain, and thus help in headache or migraine pain. It may also help in headaches by increasing the effectiveness of pain relief medication used by the consumer.

However, since the science isn’t yet clear, there are no specific recommended quantities that can ease your pain.

American Migraine Foundation suggests that depending on how much of the stimulant you’re consuming the caffeine in your coffee will help you with headaches.

If you suffer from headaches once in a while, then a coffee within 100-200 milligrams of caffeine at best may help you in reducing the pain. For people suffering from daily headaches, coffee should be completely cut from the diet.

Moreover, from the table, it’s clear that different varieties of coffee have different caffeine content due to the varying size of the serving and method of preparation. Depending on how much caffeine you’re ingesting through a single cup or serving, the stimulant will affect the brain nerves accordingly.

Does Quitting Coffee Cause Headache?

Yes, quitting coffee can cause headaches as a symptom of caffeine withdrawal.

As mentioned earlier, the body of habitual drinkers gets used to the caffeine dose so once they don’t drink it the brain starts to crave it. The cease in caffeine consumption thus expands the constricted blood vessels and increases the pressure around the brain.

In this way, you strip the body of adrenaline and dopamine when you stop the consumption.

These are the stimulants that help you with better endurance and boost. As soon as you stop drinking coffee, adenosine rushes to your head and triggers the sensation of headache.

The duration and severity of the headache will depend on the age and lifestyle habits of the drinker. Generally, the brain adapts to the withdrawal headache within a week or a bit more.

See what happens when you quit your coffee consumption.

How Do You Get Rid of a Coffee Headache?

Headache is one of the most common body conditions that people experience in their daily life. Whether it’s due to overwork, lack of sleep, or too much ingestion of caffeine, headache may result in a dull and pressing mood.

If your headache is caused due to coffee consumption then the first thing you should do is stop drinking it. Many alternatives in the market can satisfy your caffeine boost. Moreover, you can also have decaffeinated coffee to get a similar energy fix.

To get rid of such headaches, some of the best tips are:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Getting the proper amount of sleep
  • Having a balanced healthy diet
  • Drinking peppermint tea
  • Applying ice pack
  • Avoiding other caffeinated foods and beverages

You can have some ice cream as well to uplift your mood. Most importantly, try to take proper amount of rest and eat a nutritious meal. Moderate consumption of coffee rarely affects you but if you have a headache even after curbing coffee, seek medical help from experts for a better recommendation.

Does Caffeine Headache Exacerbate Anxiety?

A person sitting beside their bed anxiously
Caffeine may trigger the symptoms of anxiety disorder.

Caffeine headaches won’t directly exacerbate your anxiety issues but since it’s a stimulant it may make certain symptoms worse.

The symptoms are more prevalent in the case of people who’re already dealing with anxiety issues. Such people are more receptive to caffeine and react to the content faster than others. Also, don’t forget that both headache and anxiety are symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.

So when you stop drinking coffee, your body predisposes itself to unwanted headaches and anxiety problems. For a person having an anxiety disorder, the headache caused by caffeine just multiples the overall effects and triggers a spiral of sensation like sweaty palms, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, and jitters.

Bottomline

Coffee in its simplest form is likely to cure your headache pain and help in relieving the occasional migraines pain as well.

For non-habitual drinkers, coffee can be considered to be a magical boost that helps them in getting away with mental and physical fatigue instantly. In this case, if you’re suffering from an occasional headache, the caffeine in the drink will help in relaxing the blood vessels in your brain from the unpleasing pressure.

For habitual drinkers, coffee might not work that much since their body is accustomed to the caffeine boost and the consumption of coffee doesn’t excite the receptors anymore. This is why people tend to increase their intake gradually to get a similar boosting effect.

Don’t forget large doses of caffeine trigger unwanted side effects so it’s best to replace coffee gradually with healthier alternatives such as herbal tea, lemon water, matcha tea, or golden milk.

Once your body gets rid of the caffeine withdrawal headaches, you can slowly replace coffee with other alternatives and choose it occasionally for fixing fatigue.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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