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Caffeine| Headaches

Posted Nov 01 2008 11:37pm

Sunday, November 02, 2008 

Caffeinedependence is a frequent cause of chronic daily headache. As little as 100 mg caffeine may be enough to cause the headache, i.e. the equivalent of one cup of coffee, one bar of dark chocolate, 2 cups of tea or 2 tablets of an analgesic-coffee combination preparation. The therapy consists of discontinuing the caffeine consumption. Assessment of caffeine use is an important part of the headache work-up, especially in the case of morning or weekend headaches, unexplained increase in frequency and duration of episodes, a decreased response to headache medication or chronic daily headache. (Schonewille WJ: Chronic daily headaches caused by too muchcaffeine.Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde. 146(40):1861-3, 2002) 

Caffeineconsumption may cause headache, particularly migraine. Its withdrawal also produces headaches and may be related to weekend migraine attacks. After 24 h of complete caffeine abstinence in 20 healthy volunteers, 10 suffered from moderate to severe headaches with complete recovery within 1 h after caffeine intake. The cerebral blood flow velocities in both middle cerebral, both posterior cerebral and basilar arteries were higher following the withdrawal period, reaching statistical significance in the left middle cerebral basilar and both posterior cerebral arteries. Blood flow velocities decreased significantly within half an hour after caffeine intake in all subjects, and were similar to baseline values after 2 h. The results emphasize the relationship between caffeine withdrawal, the development of headache and alterations in cerebral blood flow velocities. (Couturier EG. Laman DM. van Duijn MA. van Duijn H. Influence ofcaffeineandcaffeinewithdrawal on headache and cerebral blood flow velocities.Cephalalgia. 17(3):188-90, 1997) 

This following study examined objective indices of performance, and self-reported mood, headache, and sleep in 36 healthy male and female habitual caffeine consumers exposed to a pattern of moderate intake. A double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over design with counterbalancing was employed in which all subjects participated in four experimental conditions involving the ingestion of placebo or caffeine 3 times daily for 6 days followed by a 7th (challenge) day of placebo or caffeine ingestion. No evidence was found that caffeine improved performance, either in the context of acute or habitual use. On the contrary, performance was found to be significantly impaired when caffeine was withdrawn abruptly following habitual use. Participants reported feeling more alert and less tired following acute ingestion of caffeine, but feeling less alert in conjunction with chronic exposure to the drug. In addition, caffeine withdrawal was associated with reported increases in frequency and severity of headache, and with reports of sleeping longer and more soundly. (James JE. Acute and chronic effects ofcaffeineon performance, mood, headache, and sleep.Neuropsychobiology. 38(1):32-41, 1998)

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