Understanding the Relationship Between Caffeine and Tension Headaches
Medically Reviewed By:
Mary K. Polinard, BSN, RN, CNOR
Coffee is one of the most valuable commodities in the world and an essential part of the morning routine for people all over the globe. However, coffee and other caffeinated beverages can have significant effects on a person’s health.
One example of this is a caffeine headache, which commonly occurs when a person accustomed to drinking large amounts of caffeine is suddenly deprived of it and experiences withdrawal symptoms.
This article will answer the common questions of “Can caffeine cause headaches?” and “Does caffeine help headaches?” As a preview, the answer to both questions is yes, which is why it’s important to understand the complex relationship between caffeine and headaches.
Can Caffeine Cause Headaches?
It is very rare for caffeine to directly cause a headache. Rather, the connection between caffeine and headaches is mostly due to a person’s dependence upon caffeine and then ceasing to consume it abruptly. This is due to the fact that caffeine causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. For a person who is used to consuming caffeine regularly, the body adapts to fight this effect. But when caffeine consumption ceases, the brain’s blood vessels dilate more than usual and result in a headache.6
Researchers have found that people who consume lots of caffeine every day suffer from occasional headaches more frequently than people who rarely consume caffeine. But ironically, low consumption of caffeine is actually associated with more chronic headaches.2
Symptoms of a Caffeine Withdrawal Headache
A caffeine withdrawal headache is just one of the many symptoms that can result when a person abruptly stops consuming regular doses of caffeine. This type of caffeine tension headache is most often described as a throbbing sensation. Aside from caffeine headaches, withdrawal from this stimulant can cause fatigue, concentration difficulties, anxiety, irritability, and depression in some people.2,3,6
Does Caffeine Help Headaches?
Conversely, caffeine can actually be used in the management of patients with recurrent headaches because it serves as an adjuvant with analgesic medications.4 When a low dose of caffeine, such as the dosage contained in Vanquish, is combined with analgesic medications, patients feel relief from their headaches faster and more efficiently. Medical professionals have found that taking caffeine in the midst of a headache can help return dilated arteries to a more normal state of constriction.6
The Benefits of Caffeine Headache Remedies
As with many things in life, moderation is the key to healthy caffeine consumption. People who consume a low-to-moderate amount of caffeine per day rarely have caffeine withdrawal symptoms or experience caffeine headaches. Yet the National Headache Foundation advises people who frequently have headaches to avoid daily use of caffeine.6
When a caffeine tension headache strikes, Vanquish is available to provide fast and long-lasting relief without a prescription. Our unique formula of two powerful pain relievers plus a low dose of caffeine is an ideal combination for tough tension headaches that don’t go away on their own. Caffeine helps boost the function of these pain relievers 1,5 at levels that are half of what is found in Excedrin. It’s the right combination, at the right levels, for effective pain relief.
Vanquish® is indicated for tension headaches. If you have a cluster headache, sinus headache, migraine headache or any other type of headache you may want to consult a doctor.
References for Understanding the Relationship Between Caffeine and Tension Headaches
2. American Migraine Foundation. Caffeine and Migraine. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/caffeine-and-migraine/.
3. American Migraine Foundation. Understanding Caffeine Headaches. Retrieved on August 20, 2019 from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/understanding-caffeine-headaches/.
4. Lipton, R. B., Diener, H.-C., Robbins, M. S., Garas, S. Y., & Patel, K. (2017, October 24). Caffeine in the management of patients with headache. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655397/.
5. Mayo Clinic. Tension Headache; Diagnosis and Treatment. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tension-headache/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353982.
6. National Headache Foundation. Does Caffeine Trigger or Treat Headaches? Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from https://headaches.org/2019/02/24/does-caffeine-trigger-or-treat-headaches/.
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