5 Experts Answer: Does Caffeine Cause or Cure Headaches?
Each week, MyHealthNewsDaily asks the experts to answer questions about your health.
This week, we asked neurologists and headache specialists: Does caffeine cause headaches, or cure them?
Juliano, director of Behavioral Pharmacology and Health Promotion at American University, Washington, DC:
There haveِ beenِ some case reports ofِ people experiencing headache afterِ drinking caffeine, butِ in general caffeine doesِ not directlyِ causeِ headaches.
Regular caffeine consumption leads toِ physical dependence onِ caffeine, whichِ manifests asِ withdrawal symptoms whenِ a caffeine user abruptly stops usingِ caffeine.
A person doesn’tِ have toِ beِ a veryِ heavy caffeine user toِ experience a caffeine withdrawal headache.
If someone is headache-prone, they should avoid using caffeine regularly.
Kathleen Digre, fellow ofِ the American Academy ofِ Neurology andِ director ofِ Headache andِ Neuro-ophthalmology Division atِ the University ofِ Utah inِ Salt Lake: The thingِ aboutِ caffeine andِ headache isِ that’s it’sِ complex, becauseِ it’s both.
Caffeine canِ beِ useful forِ the onset ofِ headaches whenِ takenِ with pain medications.
A lot ofِ people drink coffee duringِ the week, andِ then don’tِ have itِ on theِ weekends, andِ they getِ a headache.
We knowِ that a number ofِ over-the-counter andِ prescription medications haveِ caffeine forِ the purpose ofِ making themِ moreِ effective.
On theِ flip side, studies haveِ shown thatِ caffeine fromِ tea andِ coffee canِ cause rebound headaches.
Recent studies lookingِ atِ people whoِ hadِ chronic daily headache, andِ people whoِ hadِ occasional migraine headaches thatِ turn intoِ daily headaches, foundِ anِ association withِ caffeine.
Rozen, director ofِ the Geisinger Headache Center inِ Wilkes-Barre andِ Danville Penn .
Caffeine can both cause and cure headaches.
Caffeine actuallyِ can beِ helpful forِ headaches ifِ it isِ used atِ the time ofِ a headache forِ example, inِ combination medicines] likeِ Excedrin orِ evenِ just asِ a strong cup ofِ coffee.
In addition, whenِ caffeine isِ taken atِ the time ofِ anotherِ medication, forِ exampleِ when usedِ with anِ anti-inflammatory, itِ will enhance theِ absorption ofِ that otherِ medication.
Caffeine canِ alsoِ cause headaches whenِ itِ used daily forِ long periods ofِ time .
Evans, clinical professor of Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston:
Caffeine alone orِ combined withِ otherِ drugs canِ relieve tension-type andِ migraine headaches inِ some people, byِ blocking adenosine receptors andِ blood vessels whichِ result inِ the release ofِ excitatory brain chemicals called] neurotransmitters, andِ constriction ofِ blood vessels inِ the brain.
As anِ example, anِ eight ounce cup ofِ brewed coffee containsِ 135 mg caffeine, eightِ ounces ofِ Lipton tea hasِ 35-40 mg, 12 ounces ofِ Coca-Cola hasِ 45 mg, andِ Excedrin (and Excedrin migraine, whichِ haveِ the sameِ ingredients) containsِ 65 mg.
Lauren Cox isِ a contributing writer forِ Live Science.