Soda & Migraines

Migraine headaches can be extremely painful and debilitating. Some of the symptoms commonly associated with migraines include a throbbing or pulsing pain focused in one area of the head. Nausea or vomiting may also accompany a migraine, with migraine sufferers also experiencing extreme sensitivity to light. Some of the ingredients in certain sodas may affect the onset or course of a migraine headache. Consult your doctor for medical advice rather than attempting to self-diagnose or treat migraines.

Sodas commonly contain aspartame and caffeine, both of which may trigger migraines. (Image: Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images)

Food Triggers

According to, certain foods and drinks may trigger migraines for some people. Most common migraine-triggering foods include red wine, beer, aged cheese, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, chocolate and caffeine. You may also experience a migraine if you are fasting or skipping meals. Many sodas contain both caffeine and aspartame -- caffeine is present in cola and pepper-style drinks, and aspartame is commonly present in diet or "light" sodas.


According to National Institutes of Health online medical encyclopedia Medline Plus, some medical professionals attribute migraines to changes in the width of blood vessels in a patient's head. Caffeine, found in cola and pepper-type sodas, typically narrows the blood vessels in your head and body. So if a migraine was due to overly dilated blood vessels, a caffeinated soda could potentially alleviate some of the symptoms. If the migraine was due to narrowed blood vessels, caffeine would likely make the migraine symptoms worse.

Other Theories

Medline Plus says that migraines may primarily be caused by genetic factors. Certain genes are responsible for controlling the activity of your brain cells. If you suffer from migraines, consider asking close family members with the same condition whether they find certain types of soda to be either triggering or alleviating for their migraines. If your migraines are determined genetically, it is likely that you will share migraine triggers with your parents or siblings.


Anti-migraine medications are available if you cannot eliminate migraines by lifestyle and diet changes alone. Consult your doctor regarding any possible interactions between migraine medications and other prescription or over-the-counter drugs you are taking. Also consider the important role of sleep patterns in causing or alleviating migraines. Changes to your sleep pattern can precipitate a migraine, so avoid caffeinated sodas near your regular bedtime. Caffeinated drinks can disrupt your sleep pattern, potentially causing more migraines.

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