Many people’s headaches are related to their consumption of caffeine, most commonly in the form of coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and medications. Generally the headache is due to a “withdrawal” effect. Caffeine is very similar in structure to another chemical in our body called adenosine. One of adenosine’s jobs is to dilate blood vessels in the head. Caffeine blocks this dilation. Your body then has to become more sensitive to adenosine to compensate.
The only problem being that when caffeine is withdrawn, your body is overly sensitive to adenosine and blood vessels will dilate, creating a pounding headache. Naturally you reach for another coffee which ultimately results in a dependency or ‘addiction’ to caffeine. It is due to this blocking of arterial dilation that caffeine is commonly found in headache and migraine medication. It also has the ability to enhance the effects of paracetamol and aspirin.
It is believed that headache and migraine sufferers are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than the average person.
Once your headaches / migraines have been properly diagnosed and more serious problems ruled out; you can then determine to what extent caffeine may be involved.
To determine if caffeine dependency is causing your headaches it is best to gradually reduce your intake rather than going ‘cold turkey’. Even if you do not completely eliminate caffeine, it is best to limit your intake to a moderate amount, ie one or two cups of coffee per day. If the head-pain remains unchanged or worsens, it is always best to seek further professional advice.
Dietary Problems may contribute to Headaches and Migraines, so it is important to have them professionally addressed. It is also important to investigate for other potential causes, as many cases of Headaches and Migraines have more than one ingredient.
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Dr Grant Shevlin B.App.Sc. (Chiropractic) R.M.I.T 1995
Contact: Suite 6 / level 5
517 St Kilda Rd
Melbourne. 3004 Australia
Ph: +613 9820 0470
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