What To Drink For a Headache

The fluids you should drink and avoid when you have a headache

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When you are burdened by a headache, you may wonder what you should and should not drink to help get rid of it. You crave a quick solution. But, what should you turn to? Coffee? Water? Let's review the "yes, no, and maybes" of what fluids to drink when you get a headache.

1. Alcohol: NO. While alcohol has been reported to be a trigger for sufferers of tension-type headaches, it is more commonly associated with migraines and cluster headaches.

The International Headache Society has classified an alcohol-induced headache on its own, dividing it into two categories:

A classic alcohol-induced headache is often located on both sides of the head and has a throbbing quality like that of a migraine. Certainly if alcohol can cause a headache on its own, than you want to avoid it if you are already suffering from head pain.

2. Water: YES. While a dehydration headache is not classified on its own by the International Headache Society, water deprivation is reported as a headache trigger. Typically, water alleviates the pain, usually within the first thirty minutes, according to one study in Headache.

So, in a pinch, consider drinking a tall glass of water for your head pain. It might just help.

3. Caffeine: MAYBE. Many wonder whether they should drink or NOT drink that cup of steaming joe when they have a headache.

Well, caffeine presents a paradoxical dilemma in headache management. Why? While caffeine is commonly used in the treatment of tension-type headaches and migraines, daily caffeine consumption has been linked to both chronic migraines and rebound headaches. Additionally, missing your morning cup of coffee can lead to a caffeine withdrawal headache.

So, should you drink that extra cup of coffee when plagued by a headache. It may be worth a try, but you should be wary of the fact that while caffeine may abort your headache in the short-term, it may actually worsen your headache disorder in the long term.

Take Home Message

Take charge of your headache health. Question your habits. Are you drinking too much caffeine? Are you substituting soda for water? Do not be overly critical of yourself, but small changes can have huge impacts in both your quality of life and daily functioning.

Sources

Blau JN. Water deprivation: a new migraine precipitant. Headache. 2005 Jun;45(6):757-9.

Bulchholz David. Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program For Taking Charge of Your Pain. New York: Workman Publishing, 2002.

Goldstein J, Siberstein SD, Saper JR, Ryan RE Jr, & Lipton RB. Acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine in combination versus ibuprofen for acute migraine: results from a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, single-dose, placebo-controlled study. Headache 2006;46(3):444-453.

Kabagambe EK, & Wellons MF. Benefits and risks of caffeine and caffeinated beverages. In:UpToDate, Basow DS(Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2013.

Panconesi A. Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption, mechanisms. A review. J Headache Pain (2008) 9:19-27.

Panconesi A, Franchini M, Bartolozzi ML, Mugnai S, & Guidi L. Alcoholic drinks as triggers in primary headaches. Pain Med 2013;14(8):1254-9.

Silverman K, Evans SM, Strain EC, & Griffiths RR. Withdrawal syndrome after the double-blind cessation of caffeine consumption. N Engl J Med 1992;327:1109–1114.

Torelli P, & Manzoni GC. Fasting headache. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2010 Aug;14(4):284-91

Wober C, & Wober-Bingol C. Triggers of migraine and tension-type headache. Handb Clin Neurol. 2010;97:161-72.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this site is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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