Can strong coffee cause headaches?
A strong cup of coffee can fuel you for the day ahead, provide that much needed pre or post workout boost and satisfy your tastebuds. However is it a myth or a fact that extra strong coffee or too much caffeine can give you headaches? We investigate.
We’ve spoken about the many benefits of strong coffee, even what caffeine does to your body from your first sip (read all about it here). So, we thought it was time we looked into the link between coffee and headaches to discover is your daily brewed cup causes you any harm.
It turns out the belief that coffee gives you headaches is an age old myth! Hurrah! And in fact, coffee can help you find relief fast when combined with typical pain relief such as paracetamol. So whether you are suffering from a tension headache, hangover headache or even the start of a migraine, caffeine can help ease your symptoms. This is because the caffeine in your coffee helps reduce inflammation, which can bring relief from that uncomfortable banging in your head! The caffeine also gives a much needed boost to aspirin, ibuprofen, or other over the counter pain relief, ensuring that they work faster and better, giving you sweet relief fast. If you think about it, that’s why caffeine is a go-to ingredient in a lot of popular pain relievers, making them as much as 40% more effective. Like the coffee dehydration myth, it’s a wonder where this headache myth began!
The science behind it
It has been proven that caffeine constricts cranial blood vessels, resulting in an alleviation of pain when they flare during a headache. This is especially useful in easing migraine headaches (which has notable vessel dilation as one of the symptoms). Caffeine alone or combined with other drugs can relieve tension-type and migraine headaches in some people, by blocking adenosine receptors and blood vessels which result in the release of excitatory brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, and constriction of blood vessels in the brain. The true benefit of caffeine lies in its ability to help headaches due to its relation to the complex properties in the pain pathways. A subject that is still ongoing research today.
If you or a loved one suffer from hypnic headaches, usually this affects older people, waking them in the middle of the night with severe pain, caffeine is a recommended cure! Doctors typically tell people who get these to have a cup of coffee before bed to avoid the onset and to reduce inflammation before symptoms begin to show (therefore dodging the pain!).
So there you have it, caffeine offers a boost to your go-to headache medication, and in many cases a cure!
Please note: this is advice and not representative of each individual. If you are suffering from repeated headaches or migraines please consult your GP. Caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, depending on how much each individual drinks.