New Research Reveals That Too Much Caffeine Makes Migraines Worse

If you suffer from horrible headaches, you should watch what you drink.

If you're one of the many people who suffer from migraines—the third most prevalent illness in the world—then there's probably little you wouldn't do for some relief. While there hasn't been much research about what you can do to prevent them from cropping up and ruining your day, a new study published in The American Journal of Medicine has taken a big step towards determining a common migraine trigger: caffeine.

Over the course of six weeks, researchers out of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, Massachusetts, studied 98 individuals who were prone to episodic migraines to see how their caffeine intake affected them. (An episodic migraine sufferer regularly has between two and 15 headaches a month.) Every morning and night, each study participant completed an electronic diary entry detailing how much caffeine they drank, lifestyle factors, when a headache came on, how it felt, and how long it lasted.

Interestingly, the findings showed that consuming one or two servings of caffeine a day did not correlate to increased migraines. However, once participants had a third serving, the likelihood of a migraine that day, and the following day, increased.

"While some potential triggers—such as lack of sleep—may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex, because it may trigger an attack but also helps control symptoms," lead study author Elizabeth Mostofsky, ScD, an investigator in BIDMC's Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit, said in a statement.

Interestingly enough, over-the-counter migraine medications, like Excedrin, contain caffeine to help suffers mitigate the pain. "With occasional use, [caffeine] may provide modest acute headache relief as well as its characteristic satisfying sense of alertness and wellbeing," according to the American Migraine Foundation, which cautions of the risk of caffeine dependency.

Though more research is needed on the relationship between caffeine and migraines, if you're a migraine sufferer, you can enjoy your cup of joe (or two) in the morning without worrying about triggering a horrible headache. Just think twice before reaching for that third cup!

And for more information on the good coffee can do, check out the 75 Amazing Benefits of Coffee.

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