Can Coffee Give You Migraines?

Some of us need the bitter and satisfying taste of coffee in the mornings. If you’re British, you may prefer tea. Either way, a dose of caffeine in the morning helps you jumpstart your day.

A short introduction to coffee

Coffee has been cultivated since ancient recorded history. It was on Ethiopian lands that the plant became widespread, and was discovered by goats. Well, not really. According to a story, a farmer named Kaldi observed his goats were abnormally energetic at night after eating berries from said plant.

The cultivation of the plant became widespread and varieties of coffee began appearing, such as the famous Arabica coffee beans. 

How does coffee benefit your body?

Coffee has a lot of benefits but no studies have been done to link why coffee consumption reduces the risk for illnesses. Here are some of the positive effects coffee have on your body:

  • Decreased risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Lower chances of developing Diabetes II
  • Reduced risk for liver cirrhosis
  • Decrease the possibility of developing colon cancer

The risks of drinking coffee

Some studies have also linked diseases to coffee consumption. These include:

  • Cancers of the bladder, pancreas, and esophagus
  • Heart diseases
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders

It’s also interesting to note that coffee was once considered carcinogenic, but WHO has taken off coffee on their list. Diseases linked to the consumption of coffee are correlational and do not involve causation.

Cancers of the bladder linked with coffee consumption are mainly due to people’s tendency to drink the needed amount of water. This can lead to urinary tract infections and is a likely precursor to cancers. 

The same goes with esophageal cancers. Coffee is naturally acidic and people with pre-existing GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) will experience a worsening of symptoms by drinking acidic beverages. GERD is more likely to be a precursor to developing cancer and not coffee.

Caffeine in coffee has been directly attributed to insomnia and sleep disorders. Caffeine is a stimulant and will disrupt your natural sleeping patterns, so it shouldn’t be taken at night.

So how does coffee cause migraines?

Migraines Explained

To understand why your coffee may induce migraines, it’s important to know what happens during a migraine.

Migraines can be the worst kind of headaches. There are an estimated 1 billion people globally who suffer migraines. 

Migraines come in different forms and the most common one is migraines without auras. On the other hand, complicated migraines are debilitating and can cause people to see color or auras. There are also retinal migraines that have pain coming from behind the eyes. 

Retinal migraines or any of these migraines can also be a result of astigmatism. Have your vision checked for irregularities at a nearby Sears or Target

Whatever kind of migraine you have, it’s definitely painful and is not just a headache as some people would like to believe.

Migraines are believed to be caused by dilated blood vessels (also known as “vasodilation” in the medical community) in the lining of the brain. This happens because of hyper-excited neurons from the brain. 

Does coffee make my brain excited?

The chemical is responsible for making coffee a stimulant is called caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that affects your central nervous system and your brain is part of it. It is also part of psychostimulants which include cocaine and methamphetamine (or meth). 

It’s a well-known fact that it’s extremely effective in waking your brain from a sleep-deprived state. It fires up the neurons, hence, why you feel more active or feels a rush after drinking coffee. Studies have been shown that excessive amounts of caffeine will cause the brain to fire signals erratically.

Combining the effects of caffeine on blood vessels and its ability to excite neurons will lead to migraines. It’s advised that people who are prone to migraines should avoid coffee or opt for decaffeinated coffee to lessen their chances of having an attack.

What to do if you can’t avoid coffee?

If you’re a diehard fan of drinking coffee, then chances are you’ve already found ways to prevent migraines from happening. Migraines can be triggered in a variety of ways. Some people have observed that their triggers include bright lights, strong smells, and alcohol. In some cases, migraines are concurrent with other conditions like allergies and hypertension.

You can still enjoy your coffee while lessening your chances of having a migraine episode. Limiting your coffee intake is one way to prevent migraines. The recommended coffee intake for an adult is four cups a day. As long as these four cups have total caffeine of not more than 400 mg, then you should be fine.

Here’s a short guide on coffee consumption:

  • Four cups of coffee a day is okay.
  • Try not to drink coffee and eat chocolate at the same time, as chocolate also has caffeine.
  • Pace yourself with decaf – it has less caffeine than non-decaf but still present 
  • Stop drinking coffee when you’re feeling jittery already
  • If you experience nausea or headaches, try to remove coffee from your diet