Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous? – BaristaHQ

Ever felt nauseous or sick after drinking coffee? It's actually pretty common, but most people don't know why it happens or how to stop it. 

In this guide we'll explain why coffee makes you nauseous and how you can enjoy your cup of coffee without the negative side effects. 

Below are some of the most common reasons why the ingredients in coffee make you nauseous:

1. High Acidity

As coffee has a relatively high acidity that can range from 4.4 to 5.5 in terms of pH, it can cause individuals to feel nauseous and even have gastrointestinal discomfort or acid reflux.

If you're feeling nauseous, one of the reasons can be attributed to the acidity of the hot coffee.  

2. Coffee Stimulates The Digestive System

As caffeine is a stimulant, it encourages the digestive system to work a little faster - causing more gastric acid secretion than required. 

This could potentially cause individuals to experience nausea, trigger acid reflux, and even heartburn - especially if you have a sensitive stomach. 

Coffee also relaxes the gastroesophageal sphincter, which could allow some stomach acid to leak up into the esophagus and cause nausea

3. Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach

Having coffee when you haven't eaten will result in the empty stomach absorbing the caffeine at a quicker rate, potentially leaving you feeling nauseous.

In the long run, the acids from the coffee could also thin out your stomach lining and intestines and cause acid reflux or gastritis.

Some other symptoms that you could experience from drinking coffee on an empty stomach include nervousness and an increased heart rate.

4. Consuming Excessive Amounts

Nausea and stomach upsets are typically caused by high protein foods, but drinking lots of coffee can have the same effect. You should only be consuming about four cups of coffee a day (less if you have strong cold brew coffee). 

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day could cause an excessive amount of acid in the stomach, which can cause coffee induced nausea along with acid reflux and discomfort. 

Drinking excessive amounts of coffee can also cause other issues as caffeine stimulates laxative effects and irritability.

5. Drinking Coffee Too Early in the Morning

Drinking coffee the moment you wake up in the morning can cause nausea as your cortisol levels are the highest in the morning.

This especially affects individuals that have a history of gastrointestinal issues. If you're prone to these issues, try to avoid drinking coffee until mid-morning or afternoon to avoid feeling sick.

6. Drinking Coffee While Pregnant

Morning sickness is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, and this can be exacerbated by coffee. It is advised not to drink coffee during the first trimester, as this can worsen the symptoms of nausea.

Generally, however, if you are pregnant, you should be limiting your caffeine consumption to less than 20 milligrams a day. That's why most pregnant women drink decaf coffee.

7. You’re Dehydrated

If you are already dehydrated, consuming an excessive amount of caffeine can worsen the symptoms of dehydration and cause you to feel nauseous.

If you are feeling dehydrated, it is best to consume water instead of coffee to ensure that you are sufficiently hydrated. If possible, it’s also best for you to have something to eat before drinking your morning cup of coffee - even if it's decaffeinated coffee.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous

How Do You Get Rid Of Nausea After Drinking Coffee? 

While a cup of coffee can cause you to feel energized after you've been feeling sluggish, it can also cause coffee induced nausea and headaches. If you started to feel nauseous after drinking coffee, here are some ways to counteract the caffeine that you’ve consumed.  

1. Drink More Water   

Since coffee can cause you to feel dehydrated, one of the best ways to counteract caffeine is to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. By consuming large amounts of water, you will be flushing out the caffeine in your system while reducing the feelings of nausea.  

2. Go For a Walk  

While it might be the last thing that you want to do, going for a walk or even doing some light jogging can help with caffeine jitters. A gentle workout is exactly what you need to get your blood flowing and to make the nausea go away. If you don't want to walk or jog, you can consider doing yoga or pilates instead. 

3. Meditate 

Consider practicing meditation to avoid caffeine induced nausea. It’s also a good idea to combine meditation and deep breathing exercises to increase the supply of oxygen to your brain, calm your thoughts, soothe your nerves and make you feel more alert.  

4. Replenish Electrolytes  

It's possible that nausea can be caused by the caffeine upsetting your stomach. To combat the nausea, try drinking Gatorade, smoothies, and even juice to replenish the electrolytes and restore your body's electrolyte imbalance.  

black coffee and nausea

How To Tell That You’re Consuming Too Much Coffee? 

Think that you might be consuming more coffee than you should? Here are some ways to tell:  

  • Nervousness, Jitters, Anxiety 
    While coffee can make you feel more alert, it can also cause jitters and anxiety as it speeds up your central nervous system. If you’ve noticed that you’re getting the shakes and feel more jumpy than usual, you should consider reducing the amount of caffeine that you’re consuming. 
  • Headaches  
    Drinking an excessive amount of coffee can cause you to go through caffeine withdrawal. Some symptoms of withdrawal include headaches along with fatigue. 
  • Shaking Hands  
    As caffeine is a stimulant, it can also cause your hands to shake if you consume too much of it. So if you've noticed your hands starting to shake when you drink coffee, it's best to reduce the amount of caffeine you're consuming.  
  • Dizziness  
    Having too much caffeine in your body can cause an increase in your heart rate. If you have a history of heart-related problems, one of the symptoms that you might experience is dizziness.  
  • Irritability  
    Interestingly, excessive coffee consumption can cause irritability and anxiety - either by robbing you of proper sleep or triggering a flight or fight response.  
  • Upset Stomach
    Caffeine stimulates the secretion of stomach acid by your stomach cells, which can cause you to have an upset stomach. Dark roasts are less acidic than light roasts, so it might be worth asking for a dark roast or medium roast if you know you have a sensitive stomach. 
  • Irregular Heartbeats or Heart Palpitations 
    If you’ve noticed that you have irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations when you drink coffee, this can be attributed to the overconsumption of coffee and caffeine. In some instances, this could even result in dizziness or fainting spells. If you feel like this then you should consider switching to decaf coffee. 
Too Much Coffee

Frequent Questions About Coffee and Nausea

Can the smell of coffee make you feel sick?  

Yes, for certain individuals, the smell of coffee can most certainly make you feel sick. Instead of the usual side effects of anxiety or nervousness after caffeine intake, some individuals may end up feeling sick from the smell of coffee instead.  

Do artificial zero-calorie sweeteners in coffees make you feel sick? 

There is a possibility of zero calorie artificial sweeteners in coffee making you feel ill. For some individuals, some symptoms that they may experience include vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps, etc.  

Can you suddenly become intolerant to caffeine?  

If you're someone that regularly consumes caffeine, there is a possibility that you would become intolerant to caffeine and its effects. It's also possible that you may develop physical or behavioral dependencies on caffeine.  

Is coffee high in histamines? 

Interestingly, coffee is high in histamine and can result in an allergic reaction. It is, however, different from your regular allergy mechanism but will still affect individuals with caffeine and histamine intolerances.  


Conclusion

There are a few reasons coffee makes you nauseous and hopefully this guide has helped to explain them. 

We've given you some tips to improve nausea related impacts from coffee, but if it continues to bother you then it's worth reducing your coffee intake, switching to decaf coffee, or just sticking to tea or juice instead.