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Ramadan and caffeine headaches

Ever wonder why you are getting a strange headache at night during the first days of Ramadan? Right around Iftar (break-fast) time? Do you think it is a caffeine headache? Do you usually drink a lot of coffee or tea?

As Muslims begin fasting in Ramadan, a lot of Muslims will complain about "caffeine headaches". Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and not drinking coffee in the morning leads many to believe that they are having a caffeine headache. Is this possible?

Caffeine is a drug. In fact, it is the most commonly abused addictive drug in the world. It has many effects on the body. It is found in teas, coffee, diet pills and other goodies. A weaker form is also found in chocolate. But can a lack of caffeine cause headaches?

Caffeine has a 3 to 7 hour half life. That means that after 7 hours your body still has half the caffeine you started with. After 14 hours you still have 25% of the initial caffeine concentration in your system. Of course, caffeine clearance varies, but this is the average. In pregnant women caffeine is not recommended and has a half life of over 18 hours. Women taking oral contraceptives will clear caffeine in 13 hours.

Because caffeine takes so long to clear, your headaches are probably not being caused by a lack of caffeine. Yes, caffeine withdrawal causes painful headaches, but it may not be the culprit during Ramadan. In fact, it may take a few days to a week for your body to clear caffeine completely; hence caffeine is the least of your worries.

The most common causes of "Ramadan headaches" is probably dehydration. Throughout the day, you are losing water through urination, sweating, and breathing. The imbalance will usually cause a mild, tolerable headache. This is usually what you are feeling close to Iftar (break-fast) time.

If your salt and electrolytes are out of balance, make sure you keep them in check. A lack of salt may also cause a caffeine-like headache. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and replace your electrolytes well.

Another common cause of headaches is not enough sleep. Make sure you get a good night's rest. People usually overlook this, but it causes headaches more often than caffeine does.

In order to avoid caffeine headaches, try to drink your caffeine in the evening. Reverse your daily routine. Caffeine stays in your body for a long time, so you should not experience any headaches.

If you are having a headache that is "the worse headache of your life" then you need to call 911 and get to an emergency room. It's definetly not a caffeine headache.

Hopefully, these tips will help you out and keep you Ramadan headache free.

Editor's Note: This article does not constitute medical advise. Please see your physician.

Dr. Mohammed Alo

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