Did you know that caffeine is one of the most popular stimulants in the world? It can be found in many foods and beverages, including coffee, tea and soft drinks.
Because of this, it can be easy for us to consume more caffeine than we really should. And while scientific studies have found that caffeine helps people in a number of ways – for example by improving memory, cognitive functioning, and physical performance – it can also have an adverse impact.
And that’s where the dreaded caffeine headache comes in. If you suffer from caffeine headaches, then knowing the 3 common causes and 3 simple yet effective remedies we explore below might just help you get rid of them.
Common Causes of Caffeine Headaches
1. Caffeine Withdrawal
If you’re a daily coffee drinker, you might find that you wake up every morning feeling a bit dopey and irritable until you take that first sip of coffee.
These are milder symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. If you were to skip your coffee entirely, or attempt to cut out caffeine from your diet, it’s quite likely your symptoms would worsen and you would suffer from caffeine withdrawal headaches after roughly 12 to 18 hours.
These throbbing headaches can be so severe that they impact your ability to work or enjoy yourself at a social occasion. That being said, withdrawal symptoms do ease up over time as your body adjusts to changes in caffeine intake.
2. Caffeine Overdose
On the other end of the spectrum is a caffeine overdose. While having a cup of coffee at the start of the day helps you wake up and feel more alert, having too many cups of coffee, or consuming too much caffeine, can cause undesirable effects including:
- sleep problems
Some of the more severe symptoms (which, it should be mentioned, require that you arrange for immediate medical treatment) include:
- irregular or increased heart ratee
- chest pain
- muscle tremors and twitches
Obviously, you want to be careful and avoid a caffeine overdose.
3. Caffeine Allergy
It’s possible that your caffeine headaches are caused by a caffeine sensitivity or allergy. While studies suggest most adults can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (roughly 4 cups of coffee), others who are sensitive or allergic to it can suffer from restlessness, insomnia, headaches, and an irregular or increased heart rate.
The typical physical symptoms include:
- itchy mouth, tongue or lip
- swollen lips or tongue
- swollen throat
A skin test can be done to determine if you have a caffeine allergy. If you do have an allergy, then make sure you take steps to eliminate caffeine from your diet.
And if you still have a craving for coffee, switch to decaf (though please take care to check that it is truly 100% decaffeinated). Some of the finest coffee roasters carry decaffeinated beans that are still rich in flavour.
Simple, Effective Remedies to Get Rid of Caffeine Headaches
1. Take An Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever
This is a common-sense suggestion: when you have a caffeine headache, you should consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like Aspirin or Ibuprofen with a glass of water.
These OTC pain relief medicines are designed to quickly tackle your headaches, and taking them involves no risk of addictive usage.
2. Drink Plenty of Water and Rest Up
This is another common-sense suggestion. Because caffeine is a diuretic that makes you urinate more frequently, it can result in you losing fluids and getting dehydrated quicker.
This, in turn, can trigger pain receptors in your head and cause headaches. That’s why it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Pair this with plenty of rest. The last thing you need or want to be doing while experiencing a caffeine headache is staring at a laptop screen and trying to study or work. Take a break, lie down and catch some sleep. This along with the water will help your body recover quicker.
3. Have a Cup of Coffee
Right. We know how this one sounds, but the science backs it up, we promise. When you have a headache, the blood vessels in your brain swell, causing an increased blood flow which triggers pain receptors. Caffeine causes vasoconstriction – which means it constricts or narrows the blood vessels in your brain to restrict blood flow and alleviate pain.
That’s why coffee (preferably delicious and full flavoured coffee) or caffeinated beverages can help you out in a pinch. Obviously, this isn’t the solution if you think a caffeine allergy is the issue at hand.
The above three remedies are by no means the only remedies that help alleviate caffeine headache pain. You could always try any of the following as well:
- stimulating pressure points (such as pinching either side of the spot where the bridge of your nose meets your eyebrows, or the webbing between your thumb and forefinger)
- applying peppermint oil to your forehead
- applying an ice pack to the back of your neck
And there you have it. You now know how to get rid of caffeine headaches. If there are any remedies we might have missed, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.