caffeine and migraines

Caffeine has been shown to help migraines and to cause them. Knowing your specific tolerance with caffeine and keeping your caffeine levels consistent – just as you would with any drug, can be a key to reducing migraines.

Caffeine & Migraines

Trigger or treatment? The answer: both!

Caffeine is Both a Trigger and a Treatment

This mighty drug can trigger a migraine or help end one.

So many of us love caffeine. And, consuming it can trigger migraines. Most Migraine Insight users report that keeping use consistent – like, sticking with one cup a day and doing that every day – can keep it from triggering migraines. For others, any caffeine, including coffee, tea or chocolate will increase their migraines. And, a few of our users (less than 10%) seem to not be sensitive to caffeine at all. 

Caffeine has been confirmed to treat migraines. And, when added to a combination of over-the-counter or prescription medication, caffeine has been shown to decrease migraine pain by 40%. Sufferers can have up to 200mg of caffeine per day to combat migraines. 

However, when used as a part of a treatment plan – this level needs to remain consistent, or you may suffer from caffeine withdrawal headaches, which can worsen or mimic migraines. The bottom line is to track caffeine like any treatment: be consistent with dosage, or don’t take it all.

Secret caffeine – Watch out!

Consistency is key, but caffeine can sneak up on you if you’re not looking for it. Caffeine comes in other forms besides coffee, soda or tea. You’ll find it in foods like chocolate or ice cream, energy drinks, over-the-counter medication or even gum. Check ingredients to make sure you aren’t unknowingly adding more caffeine to your day than you realize.

Interesting to know: Medical Uses

Caffeine has been experimentally used intravenously by medical professionals as treatment for acute migraines, though it was found to be inferior to the usual IV of magnesium sulfate often used for migraines in ER settings.

The Key

Careful tracking of caffeine will help you determine if caffeine helps or is a trigger. Keep in mind, how much caffeine is the balance between helping and hurting. 

Many headache specialists recommend only using caffeine for acute migraines twice a week. Any more, and you could trigger additional migraines. The key is to be consistent with your caffeine use to avoid rebound headaches, which may be mistaken for migraines. Or, even trigger an increase in migraines.