Although stomach gas from caffeine consumption is not common, it can occur. This is particularly true if you consume large quantities of caffeine. While most people who limit their caffeine intake to about 300 mg a day do not experience any unpleasant side effects, consuming more than 600 mg may increase your risk of adverse reactions including gastrointestinal issues and gas. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your caffeine consumption or stomach gas.
While large amounts of caffeine are more likely to produce gastrointestinal upset and stomach gas, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others and can experience this condition even when small amounts are consumed. Consuming carbonated caffeinated beverages, such as soft drinks, may also cause this condition. If the stomach gas is caused by caffeine, you will typically notice this effect within 30 to 60 minutes after you consumed the beverage. Although the gas should go away on its own within 14 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep, taking an over-the-counter antacid or indigestion medication may prove useful.
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Keeping a journal of the foods and beverages you consume each day can help you determine if caffeine is contributing to your gas. Make a note of the foods and beverages you eat, including caffeinated and non-caffeinated items, and jot down any symptoms you experience after you consume them. If you always seem to experience gastrointestinal upset or gas after consuming caffeinated products, try eliminating caffeine from your diet for a week or two to see if the frequency or severity of the problem is reduced.
If you have gas even after eliminating caffeinated beverages, another cause may be to blame. Eating foods that contain carbohydrates, especially starches or those with sugar or fiber, may cause this condition. Stomach gas can also be caused by a number of medical conditions, including lactose intolerance, Crohn's disease, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease or gastroparesis. See a doctor if you believe a medical condition may be contributing to your gas.
Other Effects of Caffeine
In addition to gastrointestinal upset and gas, caffeine often produces a number of other effects in the body. Positive effects may include an increase in alertness, a boost of energy, better cognitive performance or an improved mood. Adverse reactions may include difficulty falling or staying asleep, diminished quality of sleep, headaches, anxiety, sweating, irritability, increased blood pressure and muscle tremors. While eliminating caffeine from your diet can eliminate these negative side effects, you may find yourself with a new set of symptoms if you stop consuming caffeine all at once. Caffeine withdrawal, which is more likely to occur when large amounts of caffeine are consumed regularly, may produce headaches, irritability and fatigue. Withdrawal effects typically go away on their own within a few days.
Stomach gas often causes temporary pain in the abdomen area. While most of the time this is not a cause for concern, some abdominal pain warrants immediate medical attention. Go to the nearest emergency room if you are unable to pass stool, vomiting blood, have trouble bleeding, have a tender or rigid stomach or if your stomach pain is accompanied by a pain in the shoulder, neck or chest. Also call a doctor if a mild stomachache does not improve within two days.
- MayoClinic.com: Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?; March 2009
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Sleep and Caffeine; Donald R. Townsend, PhD, August 2006
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract; January 2008
- MedlinePlus: Abdominal Pain; Jacob L. Heller.; October 2009
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Caffeine and Your Body (PDF)