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Coffee Tips

Why do I Get a Headache When I don’t Drink Coffee?

We all get headaches sometimes; however, the severity and reason differ. We also, in one way or the other, consume caffeine in our diet. Do you ever think there is a connection between caffeine intake and your headache?

headache without coffe

Does your headache occur after you take coffee, when you don’t take coffee at all or when you don’t take as much coffee as you do take? Have you heard of caffeine withdrawal headaches?

This article shall explain what caffeine withdrawal headache means, the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal headache, its causes and different ways to treat caffeine withdrawal headache.


What does a Caffeine Withdrawal Headache Feel Like

Caffeine withdrawal headache is linked to people who mostly take caffeinated drinks. Not everyone can boast of being caffeine-free; consumption rates can only vary. This type of headache ranges from moderately painful to severe.

When you go a day or two without drinking the amount of coffee you take daily(usually between 2 or more 6- ounce cups of coffee), you risk developing a caffeine withdrawal headache. Surprisingly, these regular coffee consumers may not experience anything unusual when they take less than usual. In contrast, some people who usually take less caffeine can develop a caffeine headache.


Symptoms Accompanying Caffeine Withdrawal Headache

  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Skin flushing

The severity and duration of these symptoms depend on how much you usually consume coffee.


Causes of Caffeine Withdrawal Headache

You may be baffled as to why taking coffee is accompanied by a headache. No, it’s not everyone who takes coffee that gets this headache. Caffeine withdrawal headache only occurs when you abstain from taking coffee or any other caffeinated drink. But why?

Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors which are pain modulators in the brain. When these receptors are blocked, they can potentially reduce the spread of head pain. When you drink coffee often, you tend to develop more of these adenosine receptors, which puts you at risk of a caffeine withdrawal headache when you stop taking it.

Caffeine also has a constrictive effect. When you take coffee regularly, your blood vessels become familiar with constriction. Therefore, tampering with your intake may trigger a rebound and widen your blood vessels. It may trigger headaches because blood vessels are often enlarged before the onset of some types of headaches.


Coffee Withdrawal Headache Remedy

Since there is just one cause of coffee withdrawal headache, it is normal for us to get that one solution to counter it.

You get this headache when you withdraw from consuming coffee, so you should drink coffee to get rid of it. You would typically get relief from a coffee withdrawal headache within an hour of consuming caffeine again.

However, if you are being intentional about cutting back on your coffee intake, you may try other methods such as;

Gradual Withdrawal

Trying to stop your coffee intake abruptly because of the headache that accompanies its withdrawal is a challenging task to take on. You need to take the whole withdrawal process slow and gradual. Try reducing the amount you take every day until you can cope without it. For example, if you take 3 cups of coffee daily, you can try to take two and a half or two cups a week and get adapted to it. From there, keep reducing till you no longer get withdrawal symptoms.


Some over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, can help ease headaches.


There is a link between sleep and headache. Getting the right amount of quality sleep may help reduce your headache pain. However, oversleeping can make your headache worse.

Dietary Supplements

There are quite a few supplements that may help treat headaches. Examples of these supplements include; riboflavin (vitamin B2), feverfew, magnesium, and butterbur. However, it would help if you got a proper prescription from a doctor to avoid potential harmful effects.


Rubbing topical menthol on your forehead or temples may also prove to be effective in reducing headache pain.


Placing ice on affected body areas can help constrict underlying blood vessels.

One study showed that applying a frozen neck wrap on the neck helped reduce pain in participants that had migraines.


Other Sources of Caffeine Withdrawal Headache

Although coffee is the most popular source of caffeine, it is not the only caffeine withdrawal headache. Other caffeinated products that can cause caffeine withdrawal headaches include ;

  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee-flavoured yogurt or ice cream
  • Sọdá
  • Energy drinks or ‘shots.’



How Long does Caffeine Withdrawal Headache Last

The headache that accompanies caffeine withdrawal would usually start a day or two without caffeine and last two to nine days.

Why does Coffee Give me a Headache But Tea doesn’t

Coffee contains more caffeine than tea does. A cup of tea contains about 20-60mg of caffeine, while a strong cup of coffee contains 100-300mg. So, you may decide to stop taking tea without having a withdrawal headache.

Why do I have Headaches After drinking Coffee for the First Time

Caffeine can trigger headaches when taken for the first time. If you are sensitive to caffeine or have a low tolerance for caffeine,  there is a high chance that you will develop a headache after consuming coffee for the first time.

Where is a Caffeine Withdrawal Headache located

A caffeine withdrawal headache often starts behind the eyes and then moves to the front part of the head. It affects the head and gets worse with physical activity.

Caffeine withdrawal headache arises a few hours after reducing or stopping caffeine intake.


Final Words

Coffee serves as an energy booster for a lot of people around the world. It has even become a must-have for people to kick-start their day. However, there may be complications with its usage.

Lowering your daily coffee intake, no matter how little, may trigger a headache even if you’re not prone to headaches.

When you experience a coffee withdrawal headache, you should manage it well or even remove coffee from your diet.


Also read:

How to Stop Drinking Coffee Without Headaches?

Does Coffee Help Headaches?