Didn't have a cup of caffeine today? I bet you have a headache.


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Coming from an avid coffee drinker, I know coffee is addicting. I usually drink a cup of coffee a day back home. Coming to school threw that off. Some mornings I don't have time to run and get a cup of coffee, so I just go about my day without one. I realized, though, that when I did not have a cup, I got a headache and felt really tired. The first thing that popped into my head was, "Oh great. I'm addicted to coffee." I found out I'm not alone; there are other people addicted to coffee because of the caffeine. I wanted to know why coffee is addicting and thought it would be a perfect blogging opportunity. If you drink any form of caffeine on a regular basis, but miss one cup and gain a headache, this will be a good explanation as to why they happen. 

Coffee has a large amount of caffeine in it and quitting caffeine is not easy. Scientists found out that caffeine is addictive in 1994 and just recently added caffeine withdrawal as a mental disorder. With a topic becoming so serious, we should know why caffeine is addictive.

The small intestine absorbs caffeine that enters the body and eventually leads it to your blood stream. The caffeine enters the brain and that is when the caffeine becomes addictive. Caffeine is such a strong chemical that it can dissolve in both water and fat. The brain has many molecules in it, including adenosine. What caffeine does to the adenosine receptors in our brains is block them so we don't get a feeling of tiredness. The blocking of the receptors gives us a sense of energy that can last hours depending on how much we consume and our age. When the adenosine receptors are blocked, it sets off stimulants to kick into high gear, which leads to adrenaline being released. It would only make sense that the more caffeine you drink, the more adenosine receptors your brain produces and the more caffeine you have to drink. This is because the brain is trying to even out the adenosine receptors being blocked from the caffeine.

When you stop consuming caffeine, the brain does not really know what to do. The brain is used to functioning on extra adenosine receptors and that is why us caffeine consumers get headaches when we don't ingest caffeine. Here is some more information about the brain and the adenosine receptors. It is safe to say that caffeine has a direct correlation to effecting the brain. Although there could be other reasons as to why I got a headache (and you might, too), not having caffeine is definitely a major factor. 

The good news is that caffeine addictions can be easy to overcome...if you are determined to do it. Just give yourself about a week to not consume caffeine and your brain will reset to the original number of adenosine receptors you should have.

Even after finding out all this information on how caffeine effects your brain, I am still not sure I am ready to give up my coffee. If you are unlike me and want to give up caffeine, here is a good article of tips on how to quit. 

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/balance/caffeine-myths-and-facts

http://www.medicinenet.com/caffeine/page2.htm


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1 Comment

I find this very interesting because I too have a dependency on caffeine. If I go a day or two without coffee, I will get a headache. If I do not take care of that immediately, it turns into searing pain in my temple. I never really thought about it until about a year or two ago. I realized that even the smell of coffee would reduce the pain, and by the time I took my second sip, the headache was almost completely cured. Ever since I was little, I've loved coffee-flavored things: ice cream, candy...you name it. It wasn't until I was in junior high that I really started drinking coffee. Even then it was merely mixed drinks that didn't actually have that much caffeine in them. Over time, I drank stronger and stronger drinks, until now I can drink straight coffee at any time of day. The older I got, the more often I drank it as well. Now, I stop at the Starbucks in the HUB or at Dunkin Donuts nearly every day. However, I've wondered how much of it is psychosomatic -- that is to say, I wonder how much of it is made up in my head. If I tell myself I have a lot to do, I'm more likely to go get coffee. If I don't go get coffee, I blame my lack of productivity on the fact that I haven't had any. I often wonder if what causes my headaches is a legitimate dependency, or simply a combination of sleep deprivation and the fact that I tell myself I NEED coffee.

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