Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"My head hurts if I have not had any coffee, is it because I am addicted to caffeine? "
I am a 24-year-old woman, born in the United States but living in Sweden. I have two cups of coffee in the morning with my breakfast and then at least one more later in the day. I sometimes drink up to five cups of coffee per day (black, one sugar). I have no allergies or other medical conditions. I am concerned that I drink too much coffee, but trying to cut back usually results in headaches.
Your headaches may certainly be due to caffeine withdrawal. You are taking in a significant amount of caffeine per day with the number of cups that you are drinking. It is good that you are trying to cut back. Just like with many other drugs, the body becomes used to its daily intake of caffeine; depriving the body of what it expects can result in a minor withdrawal state. As with other habit-forming medications, often the best way to stop taking a drug, or caffeine, is to follow a very slow, gradual taper. Instead of just cutting back from 5 cups to 2 cups of coffee in two consecutive days, you should try to taper over a period of 4-5 weeks (such as 5 cups a day for 1 week, 4 cups a day for 1 week, 3 cups a day for 1 week, and so on). If you have trouble towards the end of the taper, you can try replacing a cup of coffee with a healthier tea alternative.