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Excessive caffeine intake found to trigger headaches among migraine sufferers

A new study has revealed that too much caffeine can trigger migraine headaches among adults who suffer from episodic migraine. The researchers found that three or more caffeinated beverages a day significantly increased the risk of developing a migraine within the 24 hours that followed. 

The effects were found to be consistent regardless of alcohol intake, stress, sleep, physical activity, and menstruation, yet the results varied somewhat with the use of oral contraception.

“Based on our study, drinking one or two caffeinated beverages in a day does not appear to be linked to developing a migraine headache, however, three or more servings may be associated with a higher odds of developing a headache,” explained lead author Dr. Elizabeth Mostofsky.

Worldwide, more than one billion adults suffer from migraine headaches, which are characterized by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The condition is the most common pain disorder that results in lost productivity.

While it is widely believed that caffeine can trigger or worsen a migraine, caffeine is also believed to help relieve migraine headaches once they have set in. Up until now, however, any scientific evidence linking changes in daily caffeine intake and the onset of migraines has been very limited. 

For the current investigation, the researchers analyzed data from 98 adults who had been diagnosed with episodic migraine. For six weeks, study participants electronically recorded specific lifestyle factors, caffeinated beverage intake, and characteristics of each migraine headache.

“To date, there have been few prospective studies on the immediate risk of migraine headaches with daily changes in caffeinated beverage intake. Our study was unique in that we captured detailed daily information on caffeine, headache, and other factors of interest for six weeks,” explained Dr. Suzanne M. Bertisch.

The study showed that three or more servings of caffeine in one day corresponded with an increased risk of developing a migraine on the same day or the following day. The findings also indicated that patients with episodic migraine did not experience a higher risk of getting a headache after consuming just one or two caffeinated beverages per day. 

The study is published in the journal American Journal of Medicine.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Shutterstock/crazystocker

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