“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.” – Louisa May Alcott
What Causes A Caffeine Withdrawal Headache
Caffeine is reported as one of the most utilized stimulants, it has also been called the most widely used behaviorally active drug in the world, according to scientists from John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Reducing or abstaining from caffeine results in caffeine withdrawal syndrome, with headaches being one of the first of these symptoms.
Experts now believe that as little as a cup of coffee a day can cause withdrawal symptoms if one goes ‘cold turkey’ or drastically reduces one’s intake of caffeine. In fact, many people complain of symptoms associated with a decrease in their consumption of caffeine. Headaches are one of the most common on this list, with symptoms reported as a throbbing, or diffuse pain, sometimes accompanied by blurred vision.
How Long Does Caffeine Headaches Last?
It has been recorded that caffeine withdrawal headache occurred as early as 12 to 24 hours after the last dose of caffeine. Late onsets of 36 and 40 hours have also been recorded. The peak intensity of the headache was reported to be at around one or two days after the stop, with the pain lasting for up to 9 days after the initial stop. Usually, the more caffeine consumed on a daily basis, the more drastic and severe caffeine withdrawal headaches are. Yet, headaches have also been noted for withdrawal from doses as low as 100 mg per day.
Caffeine withdrawal headaches caused by vascular dilation might also be labelled as caffeine withdrawal headaches. Caffeine’s structure is also very similar to another chemical found in the body, called adenosine. Adenosine is responsible for dilating blood vessels in the head. When caffeine is present, it limits the effect of adenosine. But when there is a reduction or disappearance of caffeine, the body is left more sensitive to adenosine’s effects, resulting in a decreased tolerance threshold for vascular dilation headache.
Remedy For Caffeine Withdrawal Headache
The best-advised remedy would be to stop the consumption of caffeine altogether, to avoid future caffeine withdrawal headaches, however, this is not an easy thing to do nor something one would even consider.
Perhaps a reasonable approach to limiting withdrawal headaches caused by caffeine is to practice consuming caffeine in a moderation. Experts suggest that the amount of caffeine consumed per day should be kept between 200 mg to 600 mg. (An 8oz cup of coffee contains approx. 100mg of caffeine.)
By maintaining a steady level of caffeine in the body over the course of the day while staying between these levels should limit caffeine-related headaches from occurring.
Please note that the content provided is for informational purposes only. This information is not advice and should not be treated as medical advice. You must not rely on the information in this blog as an alternative to advice from your medical professional or healthcare provider. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment as a result of any information provided here.
References: Simpkins, Beth. 2020. “CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL RECOGNIZED AS A DISORDER”. Hopkinsmedicine.Org. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2004/09_29_04.html.