Here are some of the most important facts about caffeine and its relationship to headache.


Most people feel the effects of caffeine within 30 minutes.

Generally, the effects of caffeine last 3 to 5 hours.

The average American consumes about 227 mg of caffeine daily, or the equivalent of about 2-3 cups of coffee.

People who get headaches should clearly understand how caffeine affects their headaches.

Caffeine in headache medications

Adding 130 mg of caffeine to a regular, two-tablet dose of common ingredients found pain relievers (aspirin and acetaminophen) makes them relieve tension-type headache pain about 40% better than they do without caffeine. Caffeine also helps your body absorb these medications, allowing you to get back to your daily life faster.

Because analgesics work better when they have caffeine added, you may be able to take less medicine when you have a headache. And because even non-prescription medications are real medicine with the potential for side effects, taking less reduces the risks associated with inappropriate use.

Caffeine and medication overuse headache

Medication overuse headache is a serious problem that develops from taking headache medications too often, even at the recommended dose. Medication overuse headache is constant-it won’t go away until you completely stop taking the drugs that are causing the problem.

Any headache medicine can cause medication overuse headache-taking caffeine-containing headache medications doesn’t appear to increase the risk.

Medication overuse headache is rare; in fact, only 1% of the general population is reported to have it.

Addiction or dependence

According to the American Psychiatric Association, caffeine is not addictive, and it does not resemble addictive or habit-forming drugs that lead to severe physical and social consequences.

Significant caffeine abuse has not been reported by any culture in the world.

When used according to label directions, headache medicines with caffeine pose no risk of addiction or dependence.

Caffeine withdrawal headache

Technically, a person needs to use more than 200 mg of caffeine every day for at least two weeks before they can be diagnosed with a caffeine withdrawal headache.

Caffeine and Headache