Too much caffeine may spell trouble for migraine sufferers

Expert: Pay attention to your triggers if you suffer frequent headaches


Many of us can't get the day off to the right start without our morning cup of coffee.

But according to one recent study, people who struggle with migraine headaches should keep their caffeine intake in check.

The study looked at 98 people who were known migraine sufferers.

Researchers found one to two servings of a caffeinated beverage did not impact migraine risk.

However, when people had three or more servings of caffeinated drinks per day, there was an increased risk of suffering a migraine headache.

Serving sizes for coffee and tea were measured between 6-8 ounces, while servings for soda were measured at 12 ounces.

"This is something we've known for quite a while," said Dr. Emad Estemalik, of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study. "Caffeine can be related to migraines, but it really comes down to the amount of caffeine that a person would consume. Too much caffeine can actually trigger migraines, and we usually advise migraine patients to stay at a lower amount." 

Estemalik said when it comes to lifestyle choices that can impact migraines, it's vital to look at both caffeine intake and foods, which can also bring on a migraine.

Other factors, such as the change in weather -- specifically when there is a big, sudden, shift in temperature -- will trigger migraines for many people.

To limit migraine risk, he recommends keeping notes on what your personal triggers are.

"It's important for every person to know their unique triggers," said Estemalik. "Remember, this is a study, but it doesn't mean that this information applies to everybody. Patients should know their triggers -- for some, it is coffee, for others it's food, for others it's the weather."

Estemalik said people who are not migraine sufferers might not have the same degree of risk when it comes headaches and caffeine. But those who get migraines or even frequent headaches should keep tabs on how much caffeine they're drinking.

Complete results of the study can be found in The American Journal of Medicine.