Does Coffee Get Rid Of Headaches?

If you’ve ever wondered, does coffee get rid of headaches and how much caffeine does it take to overcome headache pain. Read to find out what we discovered.

bearded man with eyes closed holding his forehead - Does Coffee Get Rid Of Headaches
There's a connection between head pain and caffeine consumption

Everyone suffers from headache pain from time to time. Surprisingly, there may be a solid connection between head pain and caffeine consumption, which means that caffeinated beverages such as coffee, energy drinks, and other caffeinated beverages may help get rid of your next headache. 

Unfortunately, drinking a cup of decaf coffee will not provide the same results.

Drinking Coffee Can Help A Headache

When you experience the pain of a headache, if you're like most people, you'll do whatever you need to get rid of the head pain as quickly as possible. The good news is … caffeine can help. Drinking one or more cups of coffee can overcome many types of headaches.

If truth be told, caffeine is a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter pain relievers, increasing their effectiveness by as much as 40%. What’s more, headache pain can sometimes be treated with nothing more than the amount of caffeine found in a cup of coffee all by itself … no medication required.

woman drinking her coffee outside her house
Caffeine helps reduce inflammation

Caffeine consumption can cure a headache because it helps to reduce inflammation. This is why caffeine is used to increase the efficacy of many common headache medications. 

OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Excedrin, and aspirin, work more quickly and effectively when combined with as much as 120 milligrams of caffeine. Additionally, the effects last for longer durations as well when the cure includes caffeine.

How Or Why Does Coffee Get Rid Of Headaches?

A headache occurs when blood vessels undergo changes that result in an increase in blood flow around the brain. This puts pressure on nerves in the area which then sends pain signals to the brain.

The caffeine in coffee has vasoconstrictive properties. This means that it can cause the blood vessels to narrow or constrict, thereby restricting the flow of blood and reducing the pressure on the nerves. Voilà! No more headache.

Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches

When you drink coffee regularly, your body can become dependent on it. The body gets used to the effects of caffeine — having the blood vessels constricted. When you stop drinking coffee, the blood flow increases, causing pressure on the nerves surrounding the brain.

This may then result in what is referred to as a caffeine withdrawal headache. A caffeine withdrawal headache can last for a while, sometimes as long as a couple of weeks, until the body adjusts to the effects of not having caffeine in its system. 

A cup of coffee will stop a caffeine withdrawal headache in its tracks.

Studies Using Coffee To Get Rid Of Headaches

reviewing scientific papers on a table
Several studies show that drinking coffee reduce/eliminate headaches

In a recent 2017 review of studies compiled from two comprehensive databases of studies, it was found that caffeine substantially increased the efficacy of over-the-counter headache treatments. Most studies concerning headaches and caffeine tend to focus on migraine headaches and tension-type headaches.

The good news is that there’s not any scientific evidence that caffeine doesn’t work to reduce many other kinds of headaches as well.

A previous 2014 review, however, determined that the efficacy of pain relief analgesics like acetaminophen and ibuprofen were only slightly enhanced by caffeine. It should be noted, however, that this review was much smaller than the previous-mentioned 2017 review which was much more comprehensive.

Additionally, the 2014 review did not focus on headaches alone but was instead looking at the efficacy of treating many types of pain conditions. Studies show that drinking coffee can reduce or eliminate headaches and help the efficacy of over-the-counter pain medications.

Final Word: Does Coffee Get Rid Of Headaches

Studies have shown that coffee alone can cure a headache. Therefore, drinking a morning cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, and/or energy drinks may provide the amount of caffeine needed to cure or prevent your next headache.

Additionally, taking pain medications with a caffeinated beverage such as coffee may increase the strength and absorption of the medication, resulting in faster and more long-lasting headache relief. Care should be taken when taking pain relievers with a caffeinated beverage, however, because it can lead to the development of medication overuse headaches. 

Many over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription headache remedies contain caffeine. Although the amount of caffeine can vary, some OTC pain relievers have as much as 120 mg of caffeine per dose.

It should be noted, however, caffeine affects people differently. Some people may have more energy, but it can be at the expense of feeling jittery or nervous; therefore, the side effects of caffeine should be weighed against the benefits of its use.

FAQs About Does Coffee Get Rid of Headaches

Do healthcare providers recommend a cup of coffee for headaches?

Yes. In fact, hypnic headaches respond exceptionally well when caffeine is consumed. Hypnic headaches are severely painful headaches that occur in the middle of the night. 

Healthcare providers often advise individuals who suffer from hypnic headaches to drink a cup of coffee before going to bed. Best of all, a cup of coffee doesn’t have the side effects associated with many other treatment options.

What is a medication overuse headache and will caffeine intake help with these types of headaches?

Medication overuse headaches, also known as rebound headaches, are a common headache disorder. They’re caused by excessive or frequent use of pain-relief medications and/or anti-migraine medications used to treat migraine headache attacks already in progress.

Unfortunately, medication overuse headaches are caused by the same pain relief medications used to treat the headache. The medication triggers successive headaches attacks when used too frequently or excessively.

If an individual with a primary headache disorder, such as a tension-type headache or a migraine headache, use headache-relief medications more frequently than 2-3 days a week, a medication overuse headache is often triggered.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, caffeine consumption may lead to the occurrence of medication-overuse headaches. They advise limiting caffeine intake as well as other acute medications for migraines.

What headaches should not be treated with coffee?

Although most headaches are not considered to be dangerous, and coffee may be used to treat them, some headaches are an indicator of something more dangerous going on with your health, such as a stroke or aneurysm.

When any of the following signs and symptoms are associated with or happen in conjunction with your headaches, the headache should be considered dangerous. You should seek medical attention immediately if:

*Your headaches begin later in life, especially after 50 years of age
*The quality of your headaches has changed — the headache is different from your “typical” or “normal” headache
*A headache has a rapid onset, especially if the pain is severe
*You experience seizures
*You experience numbness, weakness, or other neurological symptoms
*You experience visual changes, including double vision and blindness
*You have a change in your mental statuses such as sleepiness, confusion, difficulty communicating or forming a thought, speech changes (slurred speech), memory lapses, or hallucinations
*You have an episode of fainting or loss of consciousness (even for a few seconds)
*You experience profound dizziness
*You have numbness in your face of half of your body
*You run a fever, especially if the fever is rapid onset
*Weight-loss

These are all signs of dangerous headaches and sometimes serious, even life-threatening conditions. This list can help you differentiate between “safe” headaches and those that are more sinister. A dangerous headache should not be ignored.

Although you may enjoy a Starbucks cup of coffee while you wait to see the doctor, you should not try to treat a dangerous headache with a cup of coffee. If you have any doubt that your headache could be dangerous, you should see a doctor immediately.

Author

  • Cindy Murdoch has been a freelance writer since 2010. She loves to do research and learn new things about lots of interesting topics. One thing, however, is non-negotiable. She cannot start her day without a good cuppa caffeine.