Researchers believe more than 3 servings of caffeinated beverages may induce migraine

Migraine has been attributed as the third most prevalent illness in the world. People prone to frequent migraines claim hormonal changes, stress, medications, weather patterns and certain food and beverages can induce migraine attacks. However recent study evaluates the immediate effects of this illness.

The team especially examined caffeinated beverages as a possible trigger for migraine. It was observed among people who suffer from episodic migraine, one or two servings of caffeinated beverages did not cause the headache, however three or more servings could be linked with frequent migraine headache on that day or on the next.

“While some potential triggers – such as lack of sleep – may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex, because it may trigger an attack but also helps control symptoms,” according to Elizabeth Mostofsky. “Caffeine’s impact depends both on dose and on frequency, but because there have been few prospective studies on the immediate risk of migraine headaches following caffeinated beverage intake, there is limited evidence to formulate dietary recommendations for people with migraines,” she adds. Mostofsky is a researcher in BIDMC’s Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit.

For the study, the team investigated 98 adults who suffered from frequent migraine. The participants were asked to complete electronic diaries every morning and evening for a period of six weeks. They were also expected to record their total servings of caffeinated coffee, soda, tea and energy drinks, in addition to their intake of medications, onset, intensity and duration of headache. Furthermore, the participants also included a report on consumption of alcoholic beverage, sleep patterns, activity levels, depressive symptoms, psychological stress, and menstrual cycles.

In order to examine the link between caffeinated beverages and migraine headache on the same or following day, experts referred to self-matched analysis, by comparing incidence of migraine on days with caffeinate beverages and on those without. Owning to the self-matched analysis, it was observed that significant factors such as age, sex, individual demographic, behavioral and environmental factors could be eliminated.

Experts also compared incidence of headache caused by day of the week, by eliminating the weekends, in contrast to weekly habits which could also impact migraine. Moreover, the study of self-matching also enabled variations in caffeine dose with regards to various types of beverages and preparations.

“One serving of caffeine is typically defined as eight ounces or one cup of caffeinated coffee, six ounces of tea, a 12-ounce can of soda and a 2-ounce can of an energy drink,” commented Mostofsky. “Those servings contain anywhere from 25 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, so we cannot quantify the amount of caffeine that is associated with heightened risk of migraine. However, in this self-matched analysis over only six weeks, each participant’s choice and preparation of caffeinated beverages should be fairly consistent.”

Results concluded that there is no link between one or two servings of caffeinated beverages and headache on the same day. However, higher incidence of headache was observed on days with three or more servings of caffeinated beverages. For individuals who rarely consumed caffeine, one or two servings of such beverages could also trigger the incidence of headache.