What are Caffeine Headaches?

by : skleong

Caffeine headaches are triggered by the chemical compound caffeine and it can occur when the caffeine intake is very high or when the person concerned is addicted to caffeine and he tries desperately to stop drinking coffee. The latter case is commonly referred to as caffeine withdrawal headache. In the following paragraphs, we'll see in more detail how caffeine - it's over presence and absence - could kick off an intense headache.

Caffeine is a natural psychoactive compound that is widely used as stimulants and in painkillers. It enhances the absorption of the drug in the intestine and that is why caffeine is an active ingredient in painkillers. But it's over dose can lead to sudden headaches.

Here is it why so - caffeine causes a biological stimulation that increases the blood flow to the brain. Hence the blood sugar level available in the brain also increases correspondingly. After some time, when the effect of caffeine subsides, the blood flow drops and hence the blood sugar available to the brain cells. Now the brain has no choice but to adjust to the change, which sometimes lead to reactions such as fatigue, headache or depression. A strong addiction for caffeine also has its root in this brain reaction to reduction in caffeine levels.

Now, the other side of the coin - the caffeine withdrawal headache. When the doctor realizes that a patient is suffering from caffeine headaches induced due to an over intake of caffeine, he/she may advice him/her to check the daily intake of caffeine (the only treatment possible) alongside taking some other medicines. But the trouble starts right at the moment the patient tries to keep off from caffeine. Caffeine addiction is usually very strong; the moment the person concerned reduces his/her daily caffeine intake, withdrawal symptoms sets in and this could be in the form of an intense headache - called caffeine withdrawal headache - or fatigue, nausea or muscle pain. Usually such withdrawal headaches resemble migraine and may last between one (in normal cases) to six days (in acute addicts).

Such caffeine withdrawal headaches can be lightened to an extent by drinking decaffeinated coffee. Analgesics must be preferably avoided, but in some cases doctors prescribe a small dose to relieve the pain if it is very intense.

To sum it up, the best treatment for caffeine headaches is to reduce or eliminate the intake of caffeine. Further, in order to reduce the withdrawal effects, it is advisable to bring down the caffeine intake gradually rather than stopping it all on a fine morning day.