Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bobblehead Give Up Coffee To Beat Migraines? Fuggedaboutit!

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Bobblehead takes his with creme, sugar, and a shot of vanilla. And a No Doze for an added boost.

When it looked like one of my problems was actually acute migraines, I was urged to keep a migraine and food diary to look for possible triggers. Alcohol, especially wine, is a known triggers. Nitrates, nuts, cheese. All on the list. So is chocolate. Bobblehead give up chocolate? No problem. I am not too thrilled with chocolate and enjoy it but if I had to give it up, no problemo!

Oh, and coffee.


Give up coffee? What, are you out of your friggin' mind?!?

Actually, give up caffeine. Yup, coffee is on the short list for know triggers. The problem is caffeine is also on the short list for migraine treatments. Yes, you are damned if you do and damned if you do not.

Caffeine is a wonderful drug. It is the most consumed drug in the word according to National Geographic (the joys of countless hours reading whatever is around while waiting for doctors or lab tests). It is naturally in many foods and added to many others.

Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor. It is unusually good at slight raises of blood pressure and temporary feelings of alertness and euphoria. It is often added in over-the-counter and even prescription pain killers. It is linked to decreases in heart disease and even breast cancer. It has not terrible addictive properties. It is almost impossible to overdose on.

Flip side: It leeches magnesium from your body. Migraine sufferers often have a magnesium deficiency and this in itself is considered a trigger. The raises in blood pressure, while not usually a strain on the heart, is a strain on the vascular system and can increase the chance of stroke. The alertness (hold, I gotta take a sip of coffee....Hmm, that is better), is temporary and one usually "crashes" once the drug wears off. High doses lead to jitters. One does get addicted to caffeine. And, as in most addictions, withdrawal from caffeine leads to more jitters and irritability (like Bobblehead in the morning without his coffee). These lead to a problem well known to migraine sufferers: the rebound headache. Take a vasoconstrictor, go off, allow the veins and arteries to widen allowing more blood flow into certain areas quickly, add withdrawal symptoms, and, well, he's down for the count! More on caffeine and migraines here.

So, what do you do?

Go back to the original advice: keep a food and migraine diary. I did. I showed no correlation at all to anything I ate or drank with my headaches. Mine were always associated with stress, physical triggers (low blood sugar, fatigue, low atmospheric barometric pressure, flashing lights, people that pissed me off...okay, not that last one, but I did want to count that and get disability to keep from going to work!), and rotational motion sickness.

As for coffee...hold on, my cup is empty and I need a refill.

[posted by ♠ Bobblehead ♠]