Giving up your morning cup of coffee is likely the last thing on your to-do list. But if you're having issues with caffeine and vomiting, you might need to put the brakes on your favorite caffeine-containing drinks and consider an alternative instead.
Caffeine can cause nausea and vomiting, especially if you drink too much.
Is Your Coffee Causing Nausea?
Coffee is highly acidic, which often causes irritation in the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, you may end up with an upset stomach or heartburn, especially if you live with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux happens when acid produced by your stomach moves into your esophagus, causing heartburn. This can happen after eating a big meal or drinking a cup of coffee.
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If you have GERD, which is a more severe form of reflux, you may want to rethink your morning cup of Joe. Caffeine-containing items such as coffee, tea and chocolate can trigger GERD and cause heartburn and upset stomach.
When you experience nausea after drinking coffee on an empty stomach, your first order of business is to consider eating before you sit down to your cup of coffee. If you're a sipper and tend to go slow, you can also try eating while drinking your coffee.
Finally, if you're having issues with coffee causing nausea, another source to consider is medications. The Mayo Clinic points out that certain medications such as Theophylline, which is used to open up bronchial airways, and over-the-counter herbal supplements like echinacea, may cause an upset stomach if mixed with caffeine.
Read more: How Many Cups of Coffee Can You Drink a Day?
Too Much Caffeine
For the most part, a minimal amount of caffeine is fairly easy to tolerate. It's when you start taking in much higher doses that problems begin to arise. According to the Cleveland Clinic, daily doses up to 400 milligrams appear to be harmless. While that may seem like a significant amount of caffeine to consume in a day, you might be surprised how quickly it can add up.
Everything from energy drinks and blended drinks to coffee, pre-workout and weight loss supplements, ice cream, soda, and many other foods and drinks have caffeine listed on the ingredient list. But just how much caffeine is in one of these products? On the lower end, one cup of coffee has about 95 milligrams of caffeine. Add an energy drink to the mix and you're now looking at a range of 75 to 200 milligrams, depending on the size and brand.
If you're having issues with caffeine and vomiting, it might be time to take inventory of how much you're getting each day. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends cutting back on caffeine if you're drinking more than four cups of coffee a day (or the equivalent), especially if you're experiencing nausea and vomiting, which are both symptoms of having too much caffeine.
In addition to stomach upset and vomiting, high levels of caffeine may also cause a fast heartbeat, migraine headaches, restlessness and insomnia.
Kicking the Habit
Kicking your caffeine habit is no easy feat, but if you can make it through the withdrawal phase, the symptoms will eventually subside. Some of the more common symptoms you may experience while weaning off of caffeine include nausea, anxiety, fatigue, moodiness, headaches and nervousness.
When you're ready to quit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends cutting back gradually rather than quitting abruptly. This may help decrease the severity of any withdrawal symptoms you may experience, which generally begin 12 to 24 hours after the last caffeine intake and can last two to nine days, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
In addition to cutting back slowly, you may also want to consider swapping your regular coffee for decaf. If you drink several cups a day, start with one cup, and gradually increase the number of decaf cups until this source of caffeine is eliminated. Allow yourself at lest two to three weeks to move through this process.
Before you stock up on everything decaf, it's important to point out that even though something is labeled "decaf," it doesn't always mean without caffeine. Some products may still contain a small amount of caffeine, so make sure and read the label or check online for detailed nutrition information.
- Mayo Clinic: "Caffeine: How Much Is Too Much?
- Cleveland Clinic: "Caffeine and Breaking the Habit"
- MyFoodData: "Total Nutrients in Energy Drink Red Bull and Coffee"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Coffee"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Gastroesophageal Reflux"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Coffee, Tea, Energy Drinks: Can You Overdose on Caffeine?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Lifestyle Guidelines for the Treatment of GERD"