Caffeine is a stimulant compound found naturally in coffee and tea. It is often associated with either triggering or relieving headaches or migraines.
During a headache, blood vessels become enlarged and become stretched and painful. Caffeine is thought to help relieve headaches by causing constriction of blood vessels which can reduce pain.
A recent study in the American Journal of Medicine showed increased likelihood of migraines on days when participants drank more than 3 or more cups of coffee. The study took into account stress levels, sleep, alcohol intake, and menstrual cycle on the day.
It is important to keep in mind that caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it can cause dehydration which can also be a trigger for headaches.
Overall, drinking 1-2 small cups of coffee per day is usually not a problem for people who suffer from headaches and migraines but more than that would not be recommended. Most importantly, each individual is a little different so caffeine may affect one person differently than another.
If you have additional questions about caffeine and headaches, talk to your healthcare provider.
Brooke Steiger, NP