Increased coughing is not a typical effect of caffeine consumption, but in some instances, it might have that effect. The amount of caffeine you consume, your current medical condition and your predisposition to allergies are a few things that may influence how caffeine affects you. For some people, consuming caffeine may trigger coughing or make coughing worse. If you always seem to experience coughing after consuming caffeine, ask your doctor for advice.
The common effects of caffeine are an increase in energy and alertness, jitteriness, anxiety or nervousness, irritability, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, headaches, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset or muscle tremors. These effects usually occur within an hour after consuming caffeine and may last up to 14 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep. The likeliness of experiencing these effects increases as with the amount of caffeine you consume. Although researchers used to believe that caffeine caused dehydration, they now know that this is not the case unless you consume more than 500 to 600 mg a day, according to MayoClinic.com. Dehydration may dry out the throat, which can aggravate or worsen coughing for some.
Allergic Reaction to Caffeine
Another reason for coughing after caffeine consumption is an allergy reaction. Although caffeine allergies are rare, they do occur. If you have an allergy to caffeine, you may not only find yourself coughing but also may experience a number of other physical reactions, like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or stomach cramps. You may also develop a redness, rash or hives over all or parts of your skin. These effects usually show up within minutes of consuming caffeine, but may not appear until an hour or two later, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. If your coughing is not accompanied by any of these other symptoms, it may be caused by another reason.
Other Causes of Coughing
Acute coughs may be cause by the common cold, the flu or a sinus infection. These coughs usually go away within 3 weeks and are generally accompanied by other symptoms, such as nasal congestion, sinus pressure, headaches, body aches or a fever. Chronic coughs that last longer than 3 weeks may be due to a medical condition. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, bronchiectasis, interstitial lung disease, tumors, lung infections or postnasal drip are just a few conditions that can cause a chronic cough. Air irritants and certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors, may also cause coughing. See a doctor to determine the cause of your coughing.
Although rare, certain situations involving a cough warrant an immediate phone call to the doctor or a trip to the ER for medical attention. Call a doctor if you cough lasts longer than 10 to 14 days, produces blood, is accompanied by a high-pitched wheezing sound or you have thick or foul-smelling phlegm. A cough that gets worse after you lie down may indicate congestive heart failure, and also warrants a call to a doctor. Difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing or swelling of the face or throat may indicate anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. If this occurs, call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room immediately.
Is This an Emergency?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Caffeine and Your Body
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine; Sleep and Caffeine; Donald R. Townsend, PhD, August 2006
- MayoClinic.com; Caffeine: Is it Dehydrating or Not?; Katherine Zeratsky
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Tips to Remember: Food Allergy
- MedlinePlus; Cough; May 2011