There’s nothing like a fresh cup of coffee to start the day on a high note. However, as shown in a 2009 study at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, it’s possible to experience headaches from drinking coffee, leading you to wonder why does coffee give you a headache, and does caffeine cause headaches? The study noted that some people who consume even low doses of caffeine can encounter chronic headaches, and headaches and other consequences can mess with productivity and energy levels. Between the rich, empowering aromas and the much needed caffeine boost, coffee has truly become breakfast’s trusty sidekick for many Americans today (myself included); yet, if you notice that your body responds to the jolt in compromising ways, such as headaches, impaired mental awareness, and jitteriness, it might be worth switching to decaf, tea, or plain water––beverages other than coffee. Feel free to experiment with different drinks to see what works for you!
There are a couple of different ways that coffee can affect the body, and it often depends on dosage and bodily predispositions for caffeine tolerance. Over email with Extra Crispy, Charles Galanis, MD, in Chicago, board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and Robert Dorfman, research fellow at Northwestern Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, explain that caffeine seems to be the culprit in triggering headaches. “Coffee has caffeine, and caffeine can cause headaches. Causes of a caffeine headache include: caffeine sensitivity, caffeine intoxication or overdose, caffeine allergy, and caffeine withdrawal,” Galanis and Dorfman explain.
Having too heavy of a pour can lead to caffeine overdose or intoxication, and “signs and symptoms of caffeine intoxication include restlessness, increased diuresis, and muscle twitching,” Galanis and Dorfman reveal.
Likewise, having an inadequate pour can release feelings of caffeine withdrawal, which Galanis and Dorfman say, “causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. Once caffeine leaves your system, these blood vessels dilate and swell, which can give the sensation of a ‘pounding’ headache.” The real solution here is to simply drink more coffee. Clearly this pattern can be consequential.
Headaches can also occur if your dosage tends to fluctuate. “With regards to caffeine consumption, even minute decreases in consumption (50-100mg) from what one is used to can trigger a headache. Therefore, people who have varying trends of caffeine consumption are more likely to experience headaches, as well as those who miss daily doses or drink less than their norm,” advise Galanis and Dorfman.
The best advice is to drink coffee in moderate dosages, as there are many benefits to drinking coffee, and be especially cautious if you suffer from headaches—you are your greatest expert with regards to your body’s response.