Can caffeine trigger cluster headaches?

Frequent headaches with the presence of pain in the head, neck or scalp affect almost millions of individuals all over the world. Doctors categorized the headache based on the location, type and duration of pain along with the presence of associated symptoms.

Some types of headaches including tension headache and migraine headache can occur as a response to a certain triggers such as consumption of caffeine. It is important to note that caffeine is also used to manage these types of headaches. When it comes to cluster headaches, they do not have any known connection with caffeine.

Close look on cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are capable of causing intense and harsh pain that lasts for 15 minutes or even several hours. The distinguishing feature of a cluster headache is the recurrent attacks that manifest each day at the exact time it occurred.

Cluster headaches can affect the individual for a week, a month or even a year and then stop. This provides the individual with periods that are free from pain for a month or longer.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are capable of causing intense and harsh pain that lasts for 15 minutes or even several hours.

The intake of alcohol is the only recognized dietary trigger for cluster headaches. If an individual experiences cluster headaches, he/she can consume beverages that contain caffeine without worrying about stimulating the onset of a cluster attack.

Is caffeine a trigger?

Caffeine is a chemical labelled as a stimulant. Caffeine is naturally present in tea, coffee and chocolate. Many food manufacturers add caffeine to soft drinks and even medications.

Once the individual consumes large amounts of caffeine, he/she can end up with symptoms of caffeine withdrawal once the level of caffeine drops. The typical symptoms include irritability, anxiety, lightheadedness, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting and headache. Drinking large amounts of caffeine can also instigate a tension or migraine headache.

Caffeine as a form of treatment

When an individual suffers from a caffeine-withdrawal headache, it is easiest to manage. It typically resolves once the individual consumes caffeine. The presence of caffeine increases the absorption of analgesics such as aspirin and acetaminophen which increases their capability to manage tension and migraine headaches.

Due to this, some pain medications also contain caffeine. Individuals who use analgesics alone should take 40% more medication in order to achieve relief than those who use analgesics combined with caffeine.

Treatment for cluster headaches

Even today, there is no cure for cluster headaches but certain medications can help minimize the severity of the pain and frequency of the attacks. Since severe pain occurs abruptly, medications that are taken orally could not provide enough relief.

The usual treatment for cluster headaches includes subcutaneous administration of sumatriptan which is a medication that acts on serotonin to constrict the blood vessels in order to reduce the pain. In addition, high-flow inhaled oxygen can also provide relief to cluster headaches. Consumption of caffeinated beverages will not minimize the pain due to a cluster headache.


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