How To Prevent Caffeine Headaches

Yes, there is such a thing as caffeine withdrawal. In a 2004 scientific analysis examining more than 170 years of research, the study team identified the five most common symptoms experienced with caffeine withdrawal to include fatigue, decreases in mood, difficulty concentrating, flu-like symptoms such as nausea and muscle pain, and — last but not least — headaches.

Researchers from a 2009 study looked into the physiology behind caffeine withdrawal-related headaches. They found that cutting off one's daily caffeine intake produced blood flow changes in the brain associated with headaches.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler tells Byrdie that persistently drinking caffeine on an ongoing basis can cause your body to become dependent on the substance. On days when you find yourself low on coffee grounds, headaches can set in as your body adjusts to the lack of caffeine it's become accustomed to.

But caffeine headaches aren't exclusive to caffeine withdrawal. Rather, these headaches can also be associated with caffeine consumption (via Byrdie). While this might seem like a no-win situation, experts have tips on how to help stave off caffeine headaches regardless of whether you find yourself with or without your coffee.

Hydration and moderation are key

Although there's no one-size-fits-all remedy for a caffeine headache, certified fitness nutrition specialist Vishal Patel tells Byrdie that hydration is key. Instead of replenishing your body with fluids after the fact, Patel suggests that coffee-lovers load up on water beforehand and continue hydrating while sipping on their coffee beverage. Doing so may help keep caffeine headaches at bay.

Additionally, Dr. Egler tells Byrdie that consuming caffeine mindfully can help reduce the chance of headaches. If you're someone who experiences headaches due to overconsumption of caffeine, try cutting back to one or two cups of coffee spaced throughout the day. Those who are caffeine sensitive and prone to subsequent headaches may also want to consider keeping their caffeine consumption to a minimum or eliminating it entirely.

If you find yourself in the throes of a caffeine headache, Dr. Egler cautions against taking over-the-counter pain reliever medications (per Byrdie). If you do this too often, you may develop medication overuse headaches. Furthermore, a 2007 preliminary study suggested that taking acetaminophen in combination with large amounts of caffeine may lead to liver damage. While the research was limited to laboratory animals and microbes, study author Dr. Sid Nelson feels the findings may also be significant to humans.