Is Caffeine a Migraine Trigger?

migraine triggers

Everybody wants it, we all say we need it, but could caffeine be triggering your migraine attacks?

A migraine trigger is any event, change, external stimulus, or physical act which seems to result in a migraine. It normally precedes the attack by a short interval like 30 minute, but it could be as long as a few days before.  

Each day many of us have a sacred “caffeine routine” that we rely on to jumpstart  our morning or give us that afternoon boost to make it through the work day. From sodas, to coffee, to energy drinks, and teas we all have our desired caffeinated beverages of our choosing. 

But drinking caffeine and suffering from frequent migraine attacks can be super confusing and have either positive or negative effects on your migraine, so it's something you should be mindful of.  For some, drinking caffeine (or taking a combo migraine medication with caffeine) at the onset of a migraine attack can help to alleviate the attack. However for others, caffeine can be a huge migraine trigger if too little or too much is consumed. 

So what’s the key to consuming caffeine safely with migraine? 

Tips to Consuming Caffeine Safely with Migraine

Caffeine is all about finding a balance that works best for you!  Research has shown that those with migraine should follow the following guidelines to consume caffeine safely:

Consume No More Than 200mg of Caffeine Daily When Living With Migraine

This includes migraine medication with added caffeine for migraine relief. Let’s take a closer look at this graph to add up how much caffeine you are drinking daily. You may be surprised to find out that you are consuming much more than 200mg daily. This can actually lower your migraine threshold and could be causing more frequent migraine attacks. If that is the case, it is important to slowly wean down your caffeine intake to less than 200mg daily (see below to how to do this safely)


Consume the Same Amount of Caffeine Daily When Living with Migraine 

Consuming the same amount of caffeine each day helps to ensure that you are not going into caffeine withdrawal.  The common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are: headache, increased irritability, fatigue, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

My Caffeine Routine with Migraine

Typically I wake up and limit myself to a single espresso shot americano (coffee snobs holla 🙋🏻‍♀️) which has roughly 63mg of caffeine in it  about half the caffeine of a small/ grande americano (most small/ larges have 2-4 espresso shots in them) and then I have the exact same drink later on after I eat lunch. Totaling roughly only 126mg of caffeine per day. For me, this balance works. However, if I drink a cold brew (238mg) or have an extra cup of coffee (95mg), It will usually trigger a migraine attack either that day or the next day because I have gone over my threshold. 

How to Wean off Caffeine Safely with Migraine

When weaning off of caffeine or decreasing your overall intake of caffeine daily, it is important to go SLOW. So let's say you drink an energy drink, that's 200mg of caffeine, and 2 cups of coffee, each cup is 100mg of caffeine, and you do this every day.  So you are having a total of 400mg of caffeine per day. So in order to wean off of the caffeine without triggering symptoms, it would be best to cut down to 300mg of caffeine each day for about a week, then cut to 200mg of caffeine each day for a week, and then cut that down to 100mg of caffeine each day for a week, and then be at 0mg of caffeine. So this whole process could take you about a month to wean off of caffeine. You could stop at the 100-200mg of caffeine since that is a safer spot for people with migraine.

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