Does Caffeine Help or Cause Headaches?

Caffeine is a form of psychoactive stimulant that belongs to the methylxanthine class of compounds. Despite it being a psychoactive substance, it is not illegal and is fairly consumer friendly across diverse regions of the world. Caffeine has its effects on the body over various biochemical reactions. One of it is its impact that reverses and blocks the response of adenosine on its receptor, and prevents the incidence of drowsiness that is caused by response from adenosine.

Caffeine is found in a variety of naturally occurring agents that includes seeds, nuts and in the leaves of plants that primarily originate in regions of South America and parts of East Asia. It consequently helps in protecting the plants against insects and also prevents the germination of seeds that are near to the plants. The most common source of caffeine is the coffee bean that is found in the coffee plant. In our daily lives, we consume a lot of caffeine in the form of coffee, tea or some soft drink. The ingestion of caffeine precisely helps inducing or preventing drowsiness, thereby causing a more activated body and mind.

General Impact of Caffeine Intake

Caffeine can affect the body in both positive and negative way. It can help a situation of infant breathing disorders. It can improve the condition of Parkinson’s disease. It can also cause insomnia or have some effects to disturb the sleeping patterns in an individual. Being a psychoactive drug, it causes a certain amount of dependency upon consumption on a regular basis. Withdrawal from the same could cause headaches, drowsiness or some adverse impact. Increased use of the same could also cause intolerance to patterns of high blood pressure, along with increased heart rate and increased urination.

Does Caffeine Help or Cause Headaches?

Does Caffeine Help or Cause Headaches?

The principal concern of the topic that encompasses the reasons that interrelates the onset of headaches along with the consumption of caffeine: Caffeine is an agent that can act as both an activator and an inhibitor of headaches upon ingestion. Caffeine is widely found in beverages and chocolates, and is also used as a remedy for pain.

Positive: Coming to the medical condition of the onset of headaches, what happens is before a headache, the blood vessels in the brain tend to inflate. The inflation of the blood vessels primarily contribute to the pain experienced during the onset of the headache. However, caffeine contains vasoconstrictive characteristics that cause the blood vessels to become narrow, thereby preventing the inflation of blood vessels and the restriction of blood flow. Thus, caffeine can be a used as a substance for relief from headache. The vasocontrictive properties of caffeine increases manifold by 40% if it is coupled with aspirin and acetaminophen for ingestion.

Negative: Caffeine is not directly involved in the onset of headache, but over consumption of the same can cause what is described in the condition known as Caffeine Rebound. It is a situation that is characterized by the incidence of withdrawal symptoms when someone who over consumed caffeine decides to stop consuming it. The physical impacts of the same condition could be adverse, but according to the statistical records, only 2% of the population can actually suffer from this condition. People suffering from headaches can consume around 200 mg, which should suffice to address the situation. However, it is best advisable to avoid daily use as that could have adverse effects.

There is one interesting condition termed as the hypnic headaches, which responds to the stimulation of caffeine quite well and helps to relieve pain. Medically, patients suffering from this instance are advised to drink a cup of coffee before they go to bed, to soothe down their brain cells.

Contradicting Theory: How Caffeine Can Cause Headaches?

Caffeine serves as a pain relieving agent, however it could also cause headaches. We’ve understood the mechanism behind it serving as a pain reliever; let’s try to figure out how it could adversely cause pain. The real reason that causes headache or anti relieving properties is the addition to caffeine. Caffeine when consumed in small amounts serves as a healer; however, if its consumption reaches beyond a certain limit, it leads to addiction for the same. Caffeine addiction is not good for health. It adversely affects the health as anything of too much is not good.

Scientific studies have revealed this condition and categorized it as caffeine addiction or dependence. Studies have shown that people, who consume more than 100 mg of coffee every day, can have severe dependence on it and it could trigger the incidence of withdrawal symptoms when not consumed. These symptoms include headaches, drowsiness, lethargy and many more.

In this article, we are mainly concerned about the incidence of headaches caused due to caffeine usage. Some neurological scientists consider the withdrawal symptoms of caffeine addiction as a psychological disorder. The research studies state that the onset of withdrawal symptoms start after tentatively twelve to twenty four hours after stopping the consumption of it. It could last for nine days after that.

What happens inside our system is due to over exposure to caffeine, the body creates more number of adenosine receptors in the central nervous system which acts sensitive in two definitive ways. First, it reduces the effects of caffeine by aggravating the tolerance of the system towards it. Second, it aggravates the withdrawal symptoms as the body is more sensitive to the effects of adenosine once the intake of caffeine drops. The intake of caffeine narrows the blood vessels present near your brain and no intake of caffeine lead them to expand, which causes you considerable pain and discomfort.

What You Can Do?

Now, let’s come to the discussion wherein we try to figure out how we can help this situation, and abstain ourselves from getting adversely effected by caffeine usage. We should try and embrace its positive traits and help ourselves with making the most of them instead. First and foremost, you need to be aware of the effects of caffeine on yourself and also possess the idea as to how much of it is needed by your system for normal benefits. This keen observation of self with regard to the effects of caffeine consumption is very necessary. This will help you figure out how much is descent for use and how much is giving you headaches or migraines. It is a good practice to observe these patterns for a while and gather a complete idea as to how it impacts. Follow the steps below to help yourself:

  • Track the amount of caffeine consumption on daily basis;
  • Check with yourself to see if its impacts are rejuvenating or making you sick and giving you head ache;
  • If you are getting a headache or face incidences of migraine pain, then make sure you slowly cut down on its consumption;
  • It is necessary to slowly cut it down and not avoid it completely in a single go, as that could take a toll on your system and cause withdrawal symptoms;
  • If you’re getting your health impacted by caffeine consumption; then probably you are overdoing it and slowly need to cut it down.

Besides these basic steps, you need to also provide yourself good sleep and consume plenty of water. Along with this, consume good nutritious good, and try working out even little each and every day to keep your body healthy and well hydrated. This will keep you in good health, leaving you less prone to fall prey into addictions. It also facilitates stress management.

You can try and minimize the onset of headaches with relaxation techniques like that of meditation and massages, instead of relying on medicines or caffeine to solve the same. Meditation and massages can have certain soothing effects on headaches.

Important Heads up: To Use Caffeine-Free Medicines

If you have the tendency to suffer from headaches or migraine pain, then you could most likely be recommended a pain relief medicine that contains caffeine. This is an interesting fact that diverse range of manufacturers prefer to incorporate caffeine as an ingredient of the medicine. The reason for this is the fact that caffeine coupled with other drugs, helps the drug to process faster and facilitates a quicker response of pain relief. However, like much of this article already points out, it is not a good practice to have too much caffeine in your body as it impacts the central nervous system in its own manner, and causes symptoms of anxiety, irritability and headaches. The best thing to do in this situation is to find options for medicines that are free from caffeine content.

Some caffeine-free medicines for instance to treat headaches:

Acetaminophen: The basic formulation of this medicine does not contain caffeine. It is necessary to check the label of the medicine to figure out if it contains that drug in particular. The drug has analgesic properties and helps in relieving pain, but unlike caffeine does not have the negative effects on the system.

Naproxen Sodium: These are pain relievers that reduce pain by reducing the inflammation that causes pain. You should be aware to check the label before purchase to prevent unwanted effects.

Ibuprofen: Straight formulations of this medicine do not contain any trace of caffeine in it. It reduces pain by reducing inflammation, and hence can be a good resort while seeking help from pain.

Aspirin: This drug can cause similar healing effects as described above for pain relief. You should be aware to purchase the one without the ingredient of caffeine for best results without any side effects.

Now let’s list some major classification of products that contain good amount of caffeine and should be avoided as much as possible:

Thereby we see that caffeine is typically present our diet from various sources, whether it is food or beverages. As caffeine is a naturally occurring agent in various plants, it is widely used all across different regions. However, knowing the impact it has on the central nervous system, as is discussed throughout the article, it is important to consume it in decent amounts. As a consumer you should be aware of the drinks you drink, medicines you take and food you consume, and also if it has any adverse effect on your system or not.

Caffeine is also found in Arizona Green Tea, which is an exotic serving for many. Specially obtained from the region of Arizona, this has good health benefits. It does not only help one stay lean but regulates the metabolic rate in a regular fashion that makes it a good beverage. This also contains caffeine and is very healthy with great benefits if consumed in an appropriate manner.


Hence, this article provides an overview of the benefits and disadvantages of using caffeine and how it can be used in a controlled manner to facilitate its benefits. Caffeine is widespread, naturally occurring agent found in trees and has neurological properties of being treated as a psychoactive drug.

If caffeine is taken in excess then it can have bizarre impacts not conducive for the brain or system. It could cause headaches, which is a situation that would because you pain and no allow you to concentrate on anything bright around you. Hence, it is advisable to learn the benefits and use as much is good for the body. Also, knowledge of your own system is very necessary to know how much your system can sustain and exactly how much of extra is unpleasant for it. Hence, anything used in an effective manner can lead to brilliant results whereas the same abused, could lead to nowhere.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 3, 2018

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