Monday, August 21, 2006

mixed messages on caffeine


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Caffeine is often suggested as a treatment for migraines. It is an ingredient in some migraine-specific treatment medications, both prescription and over the counter, and some migraineurs assert that they obtain relief from the caffeine intake obtained by drinking a can of Coke at the onset of a migraine. While encouraging the use of these remedies, many experts suggest that migraineurs avoid caffeine entirely to prevent migraines. With these mixed messages, how is one to know how best to approach the question of whether to ingest products containing caffeine?

As you might expect, the answer is a bit complicated. If you follow a few simple guidelines, however, you can have a pretty good idea how your body reacts to caffeine and how much you can tolerate.

Give the Migraine Elimination Diet a Try

The migraine elimination diet requires you to eliminate certain foods from your diet that are known to be migraine triggers for many people. Caffeine is just one item on a long list of possibilities. You keep these possible triggers out of your diet for a period of time sufficient to indicate whether the frequency of your migraines is improved, then slowly reintroduce the items one at a time in an effort to determine which items you can tolerate and which you cannot. No individual person will experience every possible trigger; these lists simply give you an idea of what could be contributing to your migraines. Some people may find that none of the items listed are triggers for them.

The elimination of items containing caffeine, if you regularly consume it, may result in headaches initially as your body adjusts to life without it. But if you find that caffeine has been making your migraines worse, it will be worth it in the long run.

Watch Out for Medication Overuse Headache

If you choose to treat your migraines with a caffeinated beverage or a medication containing caffeine, you should take care to avoid the possibility of medication overuse headache. You should not use caffeine to treat a migraine more than twice a weekk to avoid putting yourself at risk. For more information about medication overuse headache, please refer this post on the topic: medication overuse headache.

Be Consistent

If you try the migraine elimination diet and find that eliminating caffeine doesn't make a difference to your body, there really isn't any migraine-related reason to keep it out of your diet. However, it is important to be consistent in your consumption. Try to limit yourself to a reasonable amount and have the same amount every day.

Sources:
From the Cleveland Clinic: Your Guide to Migraines
Migraine Elmination Diet
Ask the Experts: Migraines and Food
The Headache and Diet Connection

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