Why Coffee Makes Me Nauseous All Of A Sudden? Causes & Tips To Reduce Nausea.

Nothing compares to a warm cup of coffee just after you wake up. The aromatic coffee beans make every coffee lover crave a delicious warm cup whenever feeling down. But what if suddenly drinking the coffee you love starts making you nauseous? Is it because of too much caffeine, or there’s some other reason behind it?

Your caffeine sensitivity might be caused due to multiple reasons, anywhere from the hot water increasing acidic levels to an increased intake of caffeine per day could be the culprit for this nausea. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended amount of caffeine is up to 400 milligrams per day for healthy adults.

It is crazy to think that something as delicious as coffee could be the culprit of nausea you’re facing, but our body works in mysterious ways. Caffeine does help you stay alert, but it also affects one’s digestive system at the same time. So, let’s find out what’s causing you this nausea and what you can do about it?

Coffee and caffeine

Coffee beans in a cup, and scattered on a table.

Don’t you just love that cup of hot coffee on winter mornings? And there is definitely nothing better than a cold coffee on summer evenings. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a great stimulant that works on our brain and central nervous system, helps you stay alert prevents you from getting tired.

As good as it sounds and feels after having a cup of coffee, be it hot or cold, there are various strings attached to having coffee, one of which is feeling nauseous.

But why do you feel nauseous? Suddenly out of the blue, why might you get nausea when you haven’t before? Let’s take a look at how this happens!

How can coffee cause nausea?

Early morning coffee

Think about it, the way you drink your morning coffee, is it on an empty stomach? If yes, then that’s one of the reasons why you might be feeling nauseous when you have your morning coffee.

Coffee is an intense drink. For some people, if you don’t accompany it with some food, then you’re going to face problems such as nausea, increased heart rate, vomiting, and nervousness.

This delicious drink is complex in nature, so it will cause your stomach lining to thin out if you don’t consume food with it.

Solution: Always have something while you drink your coffee, be it 2-3 biscuits even, but eating something will prevent you from feeling nauseous and other side effects.

Acidic nature

Coffee is acidic in nature. As coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, it pushes your stomach to work a little harder and produces more acid than necessary, as a result.

Another common reason for feeling nauseous is the acidity produced by caffeine in coffee. It ranges from 4.5 to 5.5 in terms of pH, which is more than the normal 1.5 to 2.5 pH required to maintain digestive health.

Try to see if this happened because of some change in the routine of food habits; if not, you might need to find other ways to still drink coffee but not feel nauseous.

Solution:

  • Cold brewing coffee in cold water reduces the acidic level of the drink by 66%.
  • Try low acid coffee beans. The darker the roast, the lower the acid.
  • Eat a banana. They’re alkaline in nature and can help you lower down the acidity you might be facing. But it is only useful in situations when acidity happens once or twice. For long-term acidity problems, you might want to refer to the above two solutions.

Dehydration

A young woman is feeling dehydrated from drinking coffee, and is now drinking water to help feel better.

Dehydration is the biggest cause of feeling nauseous. Turns out drinking enough water is not only helpful to your skin but also important for someone who drinks coffee on a daily basis.

Caffeine is a diuretic in nature that increases urination frequency. Caffeine increases blood flow to your kidneys, which makes them release more water through urine. For someone who loves to get themselves around 5 cups of coffee a day, dehydration may be the cause of your nausea.

Solution:

  • Your foremost priority should be to increase your water intake level in a day. While 8 glasses per is what you should be taking, but making small changes like drinking a glass of water a few minutes before coffee will help you out.
  • Drinking a moderate amount of coffee in a day will not cause dehydration in your body. By simply reducing your caffeine intake, you can solve your nausea.
  • Instant or decaf coffee has less amount of caffeine in them.

Caffeine overdose

A young man is sitting and working, drinking his 6th cup of coffee. He is overdosing on caffeine and will feel the negative effects of it.

If you think there’s nothing like too much coffee, then you, my friend, could not be more wrong! Yes, caffeine overdose is a thing, and it’s called “caffeinism,” which is caused by toxic levels of caffeine.

Taking too much caffeine can cause you to have nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, jitteriness, etc.

Not just your coffee has caffeine, but there are a number of items sold on shelves of supermarkets that have caffeine as an ingredient. Not knowing how much caffeine intake you have in a day results in a caffeine overdose that leads to nausea.

Solution:

  • Try other alternatives to replace caffeine, such as working out, smoothies, tea, cold drinks, etc.
  • Read the ingredients of products you consume to notice how much caffeine you actually take in a day.

Caffeine sensitivity

Generally, people can consume 200 to 400 mg of caffeine in a day without any issues. But people with caffeine sensitivity are different as they might not tolerate caffeine intake at all, or maybe just a small amount.

They might experience issues like nausea, racing heartbeat, headache, jitters, restlessness, and insomnia.

For people with caffeine sensitivity, even consuming a small amount can feel like consuming about 4-5 cups of coffee at a time, depending on person to person.

Solution:

Maintain a diary where you mention your total caffeine intake daily, not just from coffee but from other products. Observe yourself and how caffeine is affecting you. Once you have done that, visit a doctor to see if you don’t have a caffeine allergy; if yes, then it’s an entirely different issue, and you should follow your doctor’s advice on that.

Milk and sweetener

A barista is making a cappuccino with milk and sweetner.

Taking milk and sweetener with your coffee on a daily basis? Or did you just start adding both? Both can cause irritation to your stomach and might be the reason behind your nausea.

Artificial sweeteners might be upsetting your gut, or you might be lactose intolerant. If not lactose intolerant, even the non-dairy, low-fat, and artificial creamers might be causing your nausea.

Solution:

Start drinking black coffee or switch your milk to plant-based. Also, avoid artificial sweeteners as much as you can. Notice if avoiding these help you out or not.

Is it coffee-related nausea or something else?

We have listed down a few remedies to get rid of that sick feeling in your stomach. Ideally, it is better to try both of the methods shown in the chart below.

Coffee-related nausea remediesOther general nausea remedies
Drink a lot of water. Otherwise, the water pill effect of caffeine may cause dehydration.Place a cool compress, like an icepack or a wet cloth on the back of your neck for a few minutes. Having a high temperature could lead to nausea, so the cool compress helps to avoid this.
Try taking deep breaths, since getting anxious will only aggravate your nausea.Drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea provides a sedative feeling that would send you right to sleep when you’re nauseous. 
Take a walk so that you can calm yourself by spending that built-up energy.Lemon and ginger are home remedies. Make yourself a hot ginger tea or some lemon juice as even its scent will help ease nausea.
It’s best to take small sips as drinking too much, too fast can only worsen the situation.
Don’t lie down. Sit up straight. Gastric juices find it easy to rise up your body when you’re laying down.Eat a small bland meal to stop yourself from excess nausea and vomiting.
The best meal to take in these situations would be rice, toast, a banana, or plain/ mashed potatoes. Make sure you refrain from all diary products as we mentioned earlier.

These remedies should have you feeling like your old self in no time. They might also give you a notion as to why you suddenly experienced nausea.

Other possible side effects of drinking coffee

If you’re wondering, “is nausea the only downside you can expect from coffee?”, you’d be surprised.

A young woman is having heartburn pain after drinking coffee.

We all metabolize caffeine and its other compounds at a different rate. So the effects can differ from person to person, especially since it’s relating to different digestive-system-related discomforts. But here are some other side-effects caused by drinking coffee, usually excessively.

  1. Diarrhea – The stimulant, caffeine in excess amounts can make a person have more bowel stools, resulting in diarrhea. And if you are additionally dehydrated, then it could even cause constipation.
  2. Stomach pains – The caffeine element may increase the acid production in your stomach and act as an irritant, causing a churning sensation in your stomach.
  3. Vomiting – This is one of the final results of excessive nausea. You can remedy this by minimizing this feeling as directed before, or you can let yourself vomit. You will find relief afterward.
  4. Heartburn – Caffeine, while relaxing the esophagus, can end up aiding gastroesophageal reflux. This may result in heartburn if you’re someone that is already struggling with gastritis.
  5. Dizziness – Hypersensitivity to caffeine can cause a certain sense of dizziness in you as well. It’s best if you can drink water to fight this feeling off.
  6. Muscle spasms – Drinking too much coffee, can hype up your body more than it can handle, causing your muscles to cramp.

Can I feel nausea due to a coffee allergy?

Having a small side-effect of coffee is entirely different from being allergic to coffee. So how do you identify the two from each other? What exactly are the symptoms of an allergy to coffee? It’s best distinguishable through the chart given below.

Symptoms of Coffee sensitivitySymptoms of Coffee allergy
Nausea & uneasinessShortness of breath
Insomnia, since caffeine can give you the energy to pull an all-nighter.Intense stomach cramps
Uncontrollable muscle spasmsExtreme dizziness. This may even result in you falling unconscious.
Mild stomach achesYour skin may turn pale.
Increase in your heartbeat.A bad cough and sudden wheezing

Apart from this, you need to be aware of a few symptoms that arise when you’ve just had way too much coffee. You may feel extreme numbness, experience flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, intense mood swings, or migraines.

Yes! A study conducted in 2015 reconfirmed that caffeine can interfere with sleep efficiency and REM patterns. If you are going through any of these, it might be your body suggesting that you lay off coffee for a while.

Is there any alternative for coffee?

If coffee is troubling you with unhealthy side effects such as nausea, there are a couple of drinks that you can replace your cup of coffee with.

A young woman is drinking chamomile tea as an alternative to coffee, to reduce her nausea.

These substitutes, contain less or no caffeine at all so that you wouldn’t have to worry about the backlash. And they also contain the energizing elements that you look for to keep you active throughout the day.

  1. Decaf Coffee – If you simply cannot give up your coffee, despite irritating nausea, this might be your best option. Decaffeinated coffee has minimum caffeine, so it may just be the perfect substitute for coffee-lovers.
  2. Chamomile Tea – If you don’t mind giving up coffee, then this naturally caffeine-free herbal tea would be your best option. It’s both energizing and healthy.
  3. Coconut water – If you’re ready to replace your coffee with the most natural, and nutritious alternative, coconut water would be the way to go. The sweet taste instead of a bitter taste can be quite welcoming. It has the same benefits as coffee minus the side effects. It does quite the opposite. You can say goodbye to hangovers as this delicious drink gives you an instant energy boost. and in the long-term, it improves your blood pressure and protects your kidney functions.
  4. Golden Milk – Don’t be mistaken by its name. This is a non-dairy product with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon. So, there won’t be any risk of nausea. In a way, it acts as coffee, as the turmeric ingredient works at keeping your tiredness in control by increasing your energy. In the long run, it would aid in your brain functioning and is a big help in reducing inflammation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What gets rid of nausea fast?

You can make a list of things to help with your nausea, such as drinking cold water/milk, eating bland food (alkaline in nature), banana. You should eat slowly and in smaller bites and frequently.

Why does coffee all of a sudden upset my stomach?

Try to drink your coffee in smaller sips rather than gulping it down fast, which can cause nausea, stomach ache, and other related problems.

What causes sudden caffeine intolerance?

A lot of factors are related to cause intolerance for coffee in your body. You might be sensitive to caffeine or even allergic. Your genetics might be responsible, or your liver might not be able to metabolize caffeine.

To summarize

This delicious cup of aromatic coffee is something you start craving from the moment you wake up. While there are people who just skip their breakfast and start their morning with a cup of coffee, it is not suited to all, nor recommended.

There are many reasons why coffee might be causing you nausea, anywhere from drinking too much caffeine to not staying hydrated properly could be the issue why nausea won’t leave you.

But nausea is not something you need to be too worried about as long as you keep a check on your day-to-day caffeine intake and make sure you’re drinking your coffee the right way.

So, while you keep a check on your caffeine intake for today, let me go and make myself a cup of coffee!