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The Real Talk: Does Coffee Cause or Cure Headaches?

Good news and bad news for coffee aficionados: caffeine can relieve and trigger headaches. Yes, this wonder drink has disadvantages but don’t scrap the beverage from your diet just yet.

Headaches are always unbearable and although it usually isn’t a cause of concern, people suffering from it immediately want to escape from this discomfort. Apart from paracetamol and Tylenol, one thing that helps soothe the pain is coffee.

Lightfield Studios/Shutterstock Coffee enhances mood and provides a boost in energy

Caffeine is not just found in coffee, but is also in tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and sports drinks. This is probably why around 80 to 90 percent of Americans consume this nervous system stimulant.

Headache Reliever

Coffee is linked to so many health benefits, the most popular of which is that it helps keep us alert. It also provides a boost in energy, perfect for when we need to accomplish a task immediately.

One of the lesser known advantages of coffee is chat it relieves headaches, which may raise some eyebrows, but there’s a science behind that. We usually suffer from migraines and headaches because the blood vessels in the brain are enlarged, leading to an increase in blood flow, which is the pain we feel.

Caffeine is responsible for vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of the blood vessels to regulate the blood flow. A reduction in the blood flow will therefore relieve migraine headache.

A 2009 study found that caffeine decreased the blood supply to the brain, which is called cerebral blood flow, by an average of more than 25 percent. As such, this can greatly prevent you from having a migraine in the beginning as well as ease the pain if you already have it.

Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock Headaches are caused by the enlargement of blood vessels

Plus, caffeine has been an ingredient in some of the pain relief medications like Anacin and Excedrin. A 2017 study found that medicines with caffeine worked faster in relieving pain than others without.

Trigger the Pain

However, science has found that caffeine can also trigger headaches – that is, if you frequently consume large volumes of it. If, for instance, you increased the amount of coffee you drink but didn’t increase your water intake, you will likely experience headache due to dehydration.

Fizkes/Shutterstock Coffee withdrawal causes headache

If you’re drinking too much, it has probably become a habit and you probably are dependent on it. What may be a more triggering factor is if you reduce or suddenly stop your intake, you may suffer from symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, a sign of which is headache.

Because caffeine can narrow blood vessels, stopping your consumption will expand these, causing an increase in blood flow. Dietitian Amy Stephens advised gradually decreasing your intake so that your body can adjust.

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