I used to get periodic headaches. Most of the time the headache would be present when I woke up in the morning — perhaps once or twice a week, though not every week. Spontaneous headaches during the day were quite rare. The morning headaches were almost always mild and I would often just want to ignore them. However, I found that if I did not take anything for these mild headaches they would just get worse throughout the day. Naturally, I started taking something earlier rather than wait until the headache was severe enough to really bother me. It didn’t really matter what I took, pretty much any pain medication did the trick.

Losing weight didn’t help. It also didn’t help with my hypertension, which certainly could have been a factor in the headaches.

One thing I noticed was that I often felt like a soft drink would help me feel better. It never actually cured the headache and I’m not even certain it *actually* made me feel better, but I certainly wanted a soft drink. Now, this isn’t necessarily specific to headaches as I find I really appreciate the feel of the carbonation in several other situations (e.g., sore throat). Still, it definitely was in my mind that there could be a caffeine connection, but it’s not something I really believed.

I had gone off of caffeine before, but I wasn’t thinking about the headaches at the time so I do not know if there was a correlation. I switched back from caffeine free Diet Coke to regular Diet Coke after being challenged to a taste test and being therefore directly reminded of the fact that regular Diet Coke tastes better. (I have since discovered that Coke Zero tastes better than Diet Coke, but there isn’t a caffeine-free version.) Since I hadn’t dropped caffeine for any particular reason, I switched back for taste.

About three years ago I decided to go off caffeine to see if it would lessen my headaches. After a pretty severe couple of headaches in the days that followed I proceeded to have no headaches for nearly three years. At least nothing severe enough where I needed to take any pain medication. (I would sometimes have something that felt almost like a headache after a strenuous game of racquetball or a long day of golf in the heat, but it never really fully developed). During this time I also started taking medication for my hypertension, but it was after my headaches had already ceased.

Some time during this three year period I started having caffeine a bit more often. In particular, I started drinking more soda at restaurants, where there is almost never a caffeine free cola. This was still quite a bit less caffeine than I had previously been consuming and it did not trigger any new headaches.

Last night after racquetball, and after having probably consumed even less caffeine over the previous several days than usual, I again had one of those “almost” headaches. But this one seemed to be getting stronger as the night progressed. I went to bed a bit after midnight (having finished watching the evening’s Olympic coverage) and then woke up at around 3:30am with an honest-to-goodness headache. Bleh. I took a couple of Ibuprofen and managed to get back to sleep. When I woke up again at 6:30am the headache was gone.

Caffeine withdrawal? Something else? I was pretty tired from racquetball — it was a fairly strenuous set and there were only two of us playing rather than the three we sometimes have.


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  1. #1 by whall on August 19, 2008 - 9:04 pm

    Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

    whalls last blog post..Stuff you don’t want to MISC, #56


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