Caffeine can be a double-edged sword for those with
headache--it can serve as a treatment or, in some cases, can cause withdrawal or
a phenomenon known as "rebound" headache. The important thing to remember is
that with education and moderation, caffeine can be one of the most effective
treatments for headache.
Caffeine as a headache treatment
Caffeine is a common ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter
headache medications (see list below). Because analgesics work more quickly and
more efficiently with caffeine, patients are able to take less medication.
Caffeine additives make pain relievers 40% more effective. Caffeine also helps
the body absorb medications more quickly, allowing the patient to feel relief
sooner. By adding caffeine and, in turn, taking less medication, the patient
reduces the risk for potential side effects and reduces the risk of habitual or addictive usage.
Common Over-the-Counter Drugs Containing Caffeine
|Anacin Maximum Strength
|Anacin Tablets and Caplets
|Aspirin-Free Excedrin Caplets
|Excedrin Extra Strength Caplets and Tablets
|Goody's Extra Strength Tablets
|Goody's Extra Strength Headache Powder
|Goody's Cool Orange Powder
|Midol Menstrual Maximum Strength Caplets
|NoDoz Maximum Strength
|Pain Reliever Plus Tablets
Common Prescription Drugs Containing Caffeine
|Ergotamine/Caffeine Suppositories (Migergot)
|Ergotamine/Caffeine Tablets (Cafergot)
|Fiorinal with Codeine Capsules
|Orphenadrine Citrate, Aspirin and Caffeine (Norgesic )
|Orphenadrine Citrate, Aspirin and Caffeine (Norgesic Forte)
Note: The drugs listed are some of the more common drugs containing caffeine; all medications containing caffeine are not included. Always check the labels of over-the-counter medications for caffeine content. Or, ask your health care provider or pharmacist about the caffeine content of your medications.
- Chocolate milk, chocolate milkshakes, hot chocolate and chocolate drinks
- Cocoa mix, malt powder, chocolate flavoring
- Cola and other sodas, like Mountain Dew (regular and diet)
- Chocolate or coffee liqueurs
Note: Caffeine-free and decaffeinated beverages also contain small amounts of caffeine.
- All chocolate products including brownies, cake, eclairs
- Chocolate candy including fudge and chocolate-covered coconut, raisins, and peanuts
- Chocolate-covered graham crackers (or chocolate-flavored graham crackers)
- Chocolate ice cream or pudding
Caffeine and Withdrawal
Caffeine withdrawal from normal caffeine usage is rare. However, with excess
use, over 500 mg daily (approximately 5 cups of coffee) over a long period of
time, sudden cessation could cause symptoms of withdrawal. Patients can avoid
caffeine withdrawal by limiting their daily consumption, being educated about
sources of caffeine and by gradually decreasing the consumption rather than ending use abruptly.
Caffeine and Rebound Headache
Rebound headache is a condition
that develops from the overuse or misuse of any headache medication, including
caffeine-containing medication. While caffeine-containing medications can be
beneficial, these medications--combined with consuming caffeine (coffee, tea,
soft drinks or chocolate) from other sources--make you more vulnerable to a
Relief from rebound headache can only be accomplished by completely quitting all
headache medication. However, this should only be done under the supervision of a physician.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 4/6/2011...#9645