Fast Five Quiz: Caffeine Facts vs Fiction

Mary L. Windle, PharmD


September 04, 2019

The most commonly reported caffeine withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Drowsiness

  • Impaired concentration

  • Work difficulty

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Increased muscle tension

  • Tremor, nausea, and vomiting (occasionally)

Withdrawal symptoms generally begin 12-24 hours after sudden cessation of caffeine consumption and reach a peak after 20-48 hours. However, in some individuals, these symptoms can appear within only 3-6 hours and can last for 1 week.

A retrospective study found that for both menstruation-associated migraine and migraine not associated with menses, the percentage of responders (ie, those whose pain intensity was decreased to mild or none) was significantly higher among those receiving an acetaminophen-aspirin-caffeine (AAC) regimen than among those receiving placebo at all time points from 0.5 to 6 hours after administration.

Hypnic headache is predominantly seen in elderly patients. However, younger patients and even children might also experience hypnic headache. These headache attacks usually last between 15 and 180 minutes; however, some patients report headache attacks up to 10 hours. Almost all patients report motor activity during headache attacks. Caffeine taken as a cup of strong coffee seems to be the best acute and prophylactic treatment option.

Caffeine doses of 130 mg have been found to enhance the efficacy of analgesics in tension-type headaches, whereas doses ≥ 100 mg enhance benefits in migraine.

Read more about the neurologic effects of caffeine.


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