Headache due to lack of Tea / Coffee

If you are used to drinking tea or coffee on daily basis then skipping your scheduled tea/coffee may cause headache. The intensity of headache usually depends on how regular you are to drinking it. Tea and coffee contains caffeine, and its regular intake makes our brain dependent to it. When we skip it, the headache happens as a withdrawal symptom. To understand why lack of caffeine causes headache you need to know how its dependency changes your brain and body.

What is Caffeine ?

As a matter of fact, Caffeine is tasteless and have no nutritional value. But being a "nervous system stimulant" not just made it a part of regular drinks like coffee and tea, but also an ingredient in some medicines. Its chemical formula is C8H10N4O2 . 

According to historians brewed tea dates back to 2737 B.C. Coffee was discovered many years later in Ethiopia. Today 80% of world's population consumes caffeine in different forms.

Coffee and tea make caffeine the most consumed drug in the world. FDA recommends a maximum intake of 400mg of caffine to be safe. However pregnant women should keep it under 200mg

Why do caffeine occur naturally is plants ?

Coffee beans and tea leaves are not the only natural source of caffeine. More than 60 plant species produce it in their leaves, fruits and seeds. It is produced as a defense mechanism, as it paralyses and kills the insects that feed on those trees. Those dead insects add nutritional value in the soil under those plants. So the drug that can kill insects, only stimulates our nervous system. 

What caffeine do to your body ?

Caffeine is quickly absorbed from our gut into bloodstream and then out liver breaks it down into compounds which is sent to different organs. Its most visible effect occurs in brain when it blocks the effect of adenosine hormone. This hormone level increases with day and makes us feel tired by the day end. But caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors and thus stops us from feeling tired and sleepy.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Your brain and nervous system become more active and awake after consuming caffeine. Circulation of chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline get increased which makes you feel refreshed and focused. So if you are feeling sleepy while reading this article, then you may have a cup of tea/coffee to stay focused. Lets look at some positive effects of caffeine consumption.

  • 75mg of caffeine can increase alertness, while 160-600mg improves mental alertness, speed reasoning, and memory.
  • Caffeine enhances thinking skill and slows the mental decline than comes naturally due to ageing.
  • Caffeine increase endurance performance, but that effect is short term.
  • Lifelong caffeine consumption reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson's disease.
  • Caffeine after a class may help boost long-term memory, thus improving your learning ability.  
  • Caffeine temporarily increases your pulse rate and blood pressure.
  • Some researchers believe that caffeine protects against skin cancers, hepatitis C, cataracts, kidney stones and blepharospasm.
  • Some comparative studies have shown that caffeine consumption decrease the risk of type2 diabetes, stroke and various types of cancer.
  • Caffeine is used in various medicines as it helps your body to absorb the medication more quickly. It makes some drugs even 40% more effective.

Even small doses of caffeine on regular basis can make you dependent on it. This addiction is the most widely spread addiction in whole world. 

How caffeine makes you Addict ?

Medical community don't consider caffeine addiction as a real addiction, as it is not hard to get rid of. However some people experience withdrawal symptoms like headache if they don't get their regular caffeine in 12 to 24 hours, but these symptoms usually fade away within 48 hours. Caffeine addiction don't come with unavoidable dependency.

What happens when you miss a regular cup of caffeine?

Caffeine constricts or narrows the blood vessels in brain, which missing your regular cup of tea/coffee widens these blood vessels which increases the blood flow in brain. This increased blood flow in brain causes headache which can be easily subsided either by consuming tea/coffee or OTC painkillers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin. The fact that increased blood flow in brain causes headache might be surprising for some people. But it happens because as the blood vessels expand in size, the nerves that surround them also get stretched and send pain signals to brain.

Risks associated with high doses of caffeine

  • Depression : High doses of caffeine is often linked to depression. But it needs further research if high doses of caffeine leads to depression or if the depressed people usually get attracted towards high doses of caffeine.
  • Reproductive health : High doses of caffeine interferes with estrogen production in body, which a hormone necessary for women to conceive. Therefore women who are trying to get pregnant are advised to keep caffeine intake under 200mg per day. Some researchers have found that caffeine can reduce muscle activity of fallopian tubes and it reduces the conceiving chances by 27%.
  • Sleeplessness: People often drink coffee during late night work to avoid sleep. But the truth is that caffeine is no substitute of sleep. It may postpone the sleep but can't be avoided. If you kill a few hours of sleep every day using caffeinated drinks that your sleep-debt can cost you and a number of sleep disorders can affect your body.
  • Alcohol Abuse: Some people use caffeinated drinks with alcohol to feel sober, which leads to excessive drinking. If a drunk person considers himself/herself sober, then it leads to accidents as their decision making and reflex-action don't work properly.

Note: Caffeine is good if used in appropriate way. Overdosage of any thing (even if its good) can be dangerous. Never drink caffeinated drinks a few hours before sleep as it may harm your sleep quality, which is most necessary for good health.

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