In 50% of habitual coffee users, we can find symptoms related to addiction and abstinence, of which the most common is the headache. Caffeine, in fact, blocking the adenosine receptors improves our brain activities, a peak which is followed by a real "collapse" when the effect of the stimulating substance vanishes.
Coffee can generate dependence and abstinence just like other stimulants, and among the main symptoms that come with it there is headache. Since more than 90 percent of adults drink coffee to ‘wake up' and only one day without the drink is enough to experience headaches, it is an extremely common condition. Suffice it to say that about 50 percent of habitual coffee users experience withdrawal symptoms, more or less accentuated according to their degree of dependence. Merlin Thomas, professor of medicine at the Australian University Monash, has told some anecdotes on The Conversation, explaining the mechanisms that link the consumption of the appreciated drink to the headache.
As indicated, coffee is above all a stimulating substance; blocking the adenosine receptors, in fact, it improves our cognitive abilities making us more alert and focused, helping us, for example, to maintain a high level of attention while working, guiding or following a long and complex lesson at the university. Since caffeine literally makes the brain activity soaring, when its effects vanish, the threshold of attention drops dramatically, making us feel tired, irritable and inattentive. This is the reason why many people drink more coffee throughout the day, precisely because they do not tolerate this ‘collapse' in cognitive performance and the mood that comes with it.
When for some reason you can not consume your ‘daily dose' of coffee, the headache takes over. It is usually brief, as headache usually goes away within a couple of days, but in some people it can trigger a debilitating migraine of a week. Since coffee improves the way in which our senses receive external signals and one of the most widespread theory of the origin of headaches lies in the wrong interpretation of these signals, according to Professor Thomas this is precisely why abstinence from caffeine is one of its main fly-wheels.
It is more common in regular coffee drinkers, however, three consecutive days of coffee drinking are sufficient to unleash the nefarious effects of abstinence in the fourth. To solve the problem of headaches in half an hour or at most in an hour, just consume your daily cup; to help us there is also the awareness that we are going to drink it. Researchers at the University of Sydney have in fact shown that a placebo (decaffeinated coffee) is enough to make those who are suffering from caffeine abstinence feel better.
In conclusion of his analysis, Professor Thomas also focused on the analgesic properties of coffee, emphasizing that the adenosine receptors blocked by caffeine are the same linked to the origin of headaches and other forms of pain. This is why a cup of coffee, under certain circumstances, can be a good analgesic. Aspirin and paracetamol, moreover, can be more effective if accompanied by a small dose of coffee, naturally always after advice from your doctor.