AMONG OTHER FACTORS

How coffee, tea can trigger headaches

While some people find a cup of caffeine drink preventive, others have more frequent migraine headaches with regular caffeine intake

In Summary

• Triggers range from weather patterns, sleep, hormones, drugs, exercise, diet to stress

• Solutions include herbal and nutritional products, meditation, massage, exercise, rest and hot showers

A cup of tea
A cup of tea
Image: COURTESY

The amount of caffeine intake is a determinant to a headache trigger, according to the American Migraine Foundation. While some people find a cup of caffeine drink preventive, others have more frequent migraine headaches with regular caffeine intake.

It is complicated. Some have to take a cup or two to avoid the plight, while others steer clear of it for their sanity. Others are victimised after more than three cups of coffee or tea intake.

Photojournalist Wilfred Nyangaresi admitted to caffeine addiction. “My tea has to have lots of tea leaves in it; otherwise, I will even add raw tea leaves in the cup,” he said.

“I must also take tea in the morning, my productivity in the day depends on it. Otherwise, lack of it is unthinkable.”

Neurologists say sometimes headaches are psychological, like in the case of Nyangaresi, and that there are many people with the same script, especially with tea.

Nyangaresi explained how he was introduced to the caffeine addiction two years ago. He said he has literally become a slave to it.

“The moment I remember that I've not taken tea, I automatically have a headache for the rest of the day, unless I take a cup,” he said.

He recalled living in his uncle's place, where tea had to be dark-brown. “Adding leaves directly makes it sweeter because it is not really boiled or cooked. The aroma of unboiled tea leaves is very nice,” he said, smiling nostalgically.

HOW TO HEAL

Headache disorders are some of the most common to affect the nervous system, according to the World Health Organisation.

With a variety of headache triggers, a number of steps can be taken to reduce the risk of headaches and to ease the pain if they do occur. Taking herbal and nutritional health products, meditation, massage, regular exercise and getting enough amounts of rest and regular sleep contributes to overall health and stress reduction.

A hot shower can also help to ease the muscle tension causing some headaches, although hot water exposure can trigger headaches at times.

Headaches may result from a deficiency of a particular nutrient or nutrients, especially magnesium and certain B vitamins. Nutrient deficiencies can be due to a poor quality diet, underlying mal-absorption issues or other medical conditions, according to medics and researchers.

Headaches and migraine triggers could range from weather patterns, sleep, hormones, drugs, exercise, diet to stress. Caffeine is just the tip of the iceberg.