Dealing with Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches
People who are trying to cut down or completely eliminate their caffeine intake often suffer from caffeine withdrawal headaches and other symptoms related to caffeine withdrawal. Other symptoms include a feeling of fatigue, lessened energy and alertnesss, as well as having difficulty concentrating. Similar to all withdrawal symptoms, the pounding headache and lethargic feeling will pass, but the discomfort these symptoms bring may affect our concentration and performance of daily activities.
While caffeine is generally safe and is present in a lot of food and drinks we consume daily, it can be quite addictive and kicking the habit may not be as easy as one thinks. The intensity of the headaches and other symptoms caused by withdrawal from caffeine varies depending on how much caffeine a person takes daily. In severe cases, even the slightest drop in caffeine intake can trigger withdrawal symptoms and headaches. The good news is that the pain and discomfort will naturally go away once a person has successfully completed caffeine withdrawal. This could take a few days, or in some cases, a few weeks or even months. This all depends on how a person goes about eliminating caffeine from the body. If you are experiencing caffeine-withdrawal headaches or any other symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, consult a specialist immediately for help and advice.
Causes of Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches
It is common knowledge that caffeine acts like a stimulant. It helps us stay alert and gives us an added boost of energy. However, people who take caffeine daily for this purpose often develop a tolerance for it and an increase of caffeine intake is necessary to get the same effect. When a person reduces or stops taking caffeine, the body becomes more receptive to adenosine which helps dilate blood vessels. During caffeine withdrawal, even the smallest amount of adenosine our body produces has a substantial dilating effect on the blood vessels causing headaches when we stop taking caffeinated food, drinks, and drugs.
Relieving Headaches Caused by Caffeine Withdrawal
Quitting cold turkey is the quickest way to get rid of caffeine addiction, but it can also cause the most severe withdrawal symptoms in a person who has decided to quit taking caffeine. Taking caffeine-free pain relievers and abstaining from alcohol for the duration of the withdrawal period helps alleviate the pain and discomfort that comes with caffeine withdrawal. Getting ample rest is also a good way to fight the fatigue and headaches that come with abstaining from caffeine. It is important to make sure that everything you eat and drink contains no caffeine or has been decaffeinated as even a small amount of caffeine can prolong the withdrawal period. Another good way to manage the headaches and other symptoms related to caffeine withdrawal is to gradually decrease caffeine intake instead of cutting it off completely. The gradual decrease prolongs the withdrawal period until a person stops taking in caffeine totally, but the symptoms are much milder compared to when a person just decides to eliminate caffeine from their system at once.
If the headaches are not as bad, taking medication for the pain may no longer be necessary and the headaches can be managed by taking a warm bath, applying cold compress or massaging the affected parts. A person going through caffeine withdrawal is advised to abstain from alcohol as it helps with blood vessel dilation and may aggravate the headache even further.
Headaches caused by caffeine withdrawal are easily managed. However, it’s still a good idea to consult a specialist before reducing or eliminating caffeine intake in order to properly manage the symptoms including caffeine-withdrawal headaches.
If you’re experiencing any type of headache pain, schedule an appointment with one of our headache doctors immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.