Is Coffee Good for Headache? Here’s What Science Says

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on April 24th, 2023

We heard that coffee causes headaches, but does coffee relieve you from a headache?

We’ve all had headaches, and nothing slows us down like a good old punch in your face. But, of course, you know what kind of headaches I’m referring to. Headaches are terrible to make you feel the pounding in your head every time your heart beats.

Is Coffee Good for Headache

What’s your drug of choice when it comes to headaches?

Probably reach for Advil or your drug of choice, but what if you don’t have any pain reliever available?

I’m going to say it; coffee can help to cure your headache before it takes over you and ruins your day. The relief will be available from the caffeine in every cup of coffee.

Conventional wisdom states caffeine is a reliable headache reliever. It can also assist your body in easily absorbing various pain relievers you ingest to help you get rid of the headache at the earliest.

Types of headaches


Now, not all headaches are equal, and there are different types. So, don’t go off drinking coffee because you read the title of this article. A headache could result from a sinus problem, an allergy, a cold, or a migraine.

The causes of headaches are likely to be the same in most cases, including migraines which are arguably the worst variety but find relief from coffee. However, the relief you get may vary, especially if you don’t resolve the underlying problem causing the headache, like sinus pressure from a cold; you could find the headache returning to haunt you.

Read our article: Should you drink coffee when sick?

How does it work?

There are several studies on how to treat headaches. It boils down to two main theories on how and why coffee can help your headache. It starts and ends with caffeine.

The first theory

This theory starts with why headaches happen in the first place.  Why is coffee, or caffeine in the coffee, effective in relieving pain? The release of adenosine results in headaches occurring. This chemical can inflame the blood vessels resulting in the throbbing sensation and pain.

The caffeine in a typical cup of coffee, however, stops the body’s production of adenosine and helps to constrict the blood vessels. Therefore, making you feel better.

Second theory

Theory number two is based on several studies about caffeine. The studies observed caffeine could increase the effectiveness of pain relievers by helping your body absorb the medication faster than it normally would.

So while coffee may not be effective by itself, it can help speed up the process of relieving you from the headache you have when you take pain relievers for your head. Unfortunately, few pain relievers, both over-the-counter and prescription, contain caffeine.

Caffeine in pain relievers


Multiple studies showed how caffeine helps your body absorb painkillers. In addition, many of these drugs contain caffeine with other active ingredients. Maybe that’s why you may feel awake instead of being drowsy.

Some of the popular over-the-counter pain relievers containing caffeine are:

  • Goody’s
  • Excedrin
  • Midol
  • Anacin
  • Bayer
  • NoDoz

Several prescription medications are also using caffeine as an ingredient. Some of the popular varieties available are:

  • Cafergot
  • Fiorinal
  • Norgesic
  • Triaminic

These are just a few of the most popular medications containing caffeine as part of their mission to provide pain relief. We suggest you check the label of the pain relief medication or verify with your pharmacist to understand whether your pain reliever has caffeine as an ingredient.

Caffeine addiction


Remember, caffeine is a drug, and like many others, it is also addictive. Drinking too much coffee or having foods and drinks containing caffeine can make your body addicted to this substance.

When you become addicted, your body will crave caffeine in its system after your body has processed and removed the caffeine. This could be a cause of encountering withdrawal symptoms that make you feel sluggish and even leave you with headaches taking you back to the problem you sought to overcome.

Rebound headaches


Do you know caffeine can cause rebound headaches? This is generally a result of consuming caffeine through pain medications. A rebound headache results from overusing pain medication that ultimately often has the opposite effect, which can cause you to have a headache.

Unfortunately, in these circumstances, using pain relievers or drinking coffee will not prove helpful to you. In such cases, your best options would be to cease drinking caffeinated beverages or coffee and stop taking the medication to relieve the headache.

Some time will be needed for the medications and caffeine to leave your body, but after they have left, you will notice that your rebound headaches will also disappear.

Other sources of caffeine

Besides coffee and certain pain medications, caffeine is also present in many other foods and beverages. Therefore, if you are suffering from a headache and have no access to pain relievers or coffee, we suggest you try reaching out to one of these foods or drinks:

  • Chocolate
  • Cola
  • Tea
  • Cocoa mix

None of these foods and beverages, including coffee, can be considered the best substitutes for ingesting traditional pain relievers. As discussed earlier, too much caffeine results in caffeine addiction, limiting caffeine’s effects on your body. It could even cause additional headaches if you begin consuming less coffee than before.

Withdrawal symptoms


If you are going through caffeine withdrawal symptoms, you can expect many indications to affect you. They include:

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

If you have been drinking five or more cups of coffee every day for an extended period, the chances of your body becoming addicted to caffeine cause you to experience these symptoms if you suddenly decide to decrease your coffee consumption drastically.

. If you adopt this method, you will observe your headaches and other symptoms worsening within 30 minutes to an hour after you have your cup of coffee.

The most benefit

Here are a few ways you can use coffee as an advantage to get rid of your headache or not cause any of them.

First, avoid drinking too much of it.

People are consuming 5 cups of coffee or more daily increase their likelihood of becoming dependent on caffeine. This indicates that when you use coffee for treating a headache, you will not find it beneficial because your body has become accustomed to it.

Second, attempt to always take your pain medication with a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage.

Talk to your doctor before you attempt this suggestion. You’ll want to confirm your medication is not loaded with caffeine, so you do not ingest too much caffeine.

Always hydrate yourself before you begin using caffeinated products. And no, soft drinks and coffee do not help quench your thirst or hydrate your body, but they worsen the condition in many cases.

Finally, slowly drink a cup of coffee with your pain medication.

Please do not drink it too fast or have too much of it. The objective should be to use the coffee to help with the headache while providing the pain medication an opportunity to kick in.

If you do not have pain medication around, you shouldn’t try to compensate for it by drinking more coffee. Instead, drink your cup of coffee slowly to allow your body to gradually absorb the caffeine to find relief from your symptoms.

Wrapping it up

The caffeine in your cup of coffee will not only make you feel more energized but will also provide relief from the pain you are feeling because of the nasty headache slowing you down.

Of course, too much of anything is not good, including the caffeine in coffee. However, if used appropriately with a good over-the-counter pain reliever, coffee can quickly put your headache to rest.

So…. why not? Drink a bit… of coffee, and allow it to get back to work, play, enjoy the rest of your day without, and reduce your headache.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.