Solving the Mystery Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous

Written by: Raj Jana

nauseating effect of coffee

For many people, coffee is an essential part of their daily routine. However, some may experience nausea after drinking coffee, leaving them feeling uncomfortable and puzzled. The main culprit behind this mystery lies in the compounds found in coffee and how they affect our bodies. In this article, we will delve into the science behind coffee and nausea, common reasons why it occurs, and how to prevent it.

The Science Behind Coffee and Nausea:

Coffee contains several compounds, including caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamines, that can affect our bodies in different ways. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and blood pressure, while chlorogenic acid can cause stomach irritation. N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamines can affect the serotonin levels in our body, leading to changes in mood and digestion.

Common Reasons Why Coffee Causes Nausea:

  1. Caffeine Sensitivity: Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine and can experience nausea as a result.
  2. Acidic Coffee: The high acid content in coffee can cause stomach irritation and result in nausea.
  3. Dehydration: Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it increases the production of urine, leading to dehydration if not enough water is consumed.
  4. Medication Interactions: Certain medications, such as antibiotics or antidepressants, can interact with the compounds in coffee and cause nausea.

How to Prevent Nausea from Coffee:

  1. Switch to Decaf: If you are sensitive to caffeine, switching to decaf coffee can prevent nausea.
  2. Try a Different Roast: Different roasts have varying levels of acidity, so trying a different roast may help alleviate nausea.
  3. Drink Water Before and After Coffee: Staying hydrated can help prevent dehydration and stomach irritation.
  4. Avoid Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach: Having food in your stomach before drinking coffee can help alleviate nausea.

When to See a Doctor:

If nausea persists even after making these changes or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor. It could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.


In most cases, nausea from drinking coffee can be prevented by understanding the compounds present and making some changes to your routine. However, if the problem persists, it is best to seek medical advice. With the right approach, you can continue to enjoy your favorite cup of coffee without feeling sick.




The Science Behind Coffee and Nausea

When delving into the scientific factors behind coffee and nausea, it is crucial to take into account the acidity and caffeine levels in coffee. The high acidity of coffee can irritate the stomach lining and potentially trigger nausea in certain individuals. Furthermore, caffeine can stimulate the production of stomach acid, which may contribute to feelings of nausea, especially when consumed on an empty stomach. It is important to note that tolerance levels vary among individuals, and some may experience nausea due to caffeine sensitivity or other factors. By understanding these aspects, individuals can make informed decisions about their coffee intake and potentially reduce the likelihood of experiencing nausea.

Fun Fact: Research has shown that decaffeinated coffee is less likely to cause nausea compared to regular coffee, indicating that caffeine plays a significant role in this phenomenon.

What are the Compounds in Coffee?

The compounds in coffee that contribute to its flavor and effects include:

  • Caffeine: A natural stimulant that can enhance focus and alertness when consumed in moderation.
  • Chlorogenic acid: Known for its antioxidant properties and potential to support overall health.
  • Acids: Including quinic, citric, and acetic acids, which contribute to the tangy taste of coffee.
  • Trigonelline: Developed during the roasting process, this compound adds to the overall flavor profile of coffee.
  • Maillard reaction products: Compounds formed during roasting that give coffee its unique aroma and taste.

Pro-tip: To reduce the acidity in your stomach, try making cold brew coffee. This method produces a smoother, less acidic brew that may be easier on your digestive system.

How Do These Compounds Affect the Body?

  • Caffeine: Stimulates the central nervous system, resulting in increased alertness and reduced fatigue.
  • Chlorogenic acid: Can cause stomach irritation and increased acid production, possibly leading to nausea in individuals who are sensitive to it.
  • Acids: Coffee contains various acids, such as acetic, citric, and malic acid, which may contribute to gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals.
  • Phenolic compounds: Have antioxidant properties, but excessive consumption may lead to digestive issues in susceptible individuals.

Common Reasons Why Coffee Causes Nausea

reasons why coffee can cause nausea

For many people, a morning cup of coffee is an essential part of their daily routine. But what happens when that beloved beverage starts causing unpleasant side effects like nausea? In this section, we will dive into the common reasons why coffee can make you feel queasy. From caffeine sensitivity to medication interactions, we will discuss the potential culprits behind this mysterious phenomenon. By understanding these factors, you can make informed choices about your coffee consumption and hopefully enjoy your favorite drink without any unpleasant side effects.

1. Caffeine Sensitivity

  • Identify symptoms: Recognize signs of caffeine sensitivity, such as restlessness, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, or digestive issues, after consuming caffeinated products.
  • Gradual reduction: If experiencing sensitivity, gradually decrease caffeine intake to minimize withdrawal symptoms like headaches or fatigue.
  • Alternative beverages: Switch to decaffeinated options to alleviate discomfort caused by caffeine while still enjoying the taste of coffee.
  • Monitor caffeine sources: Pay attention to hidden sources of caffeine in medications, energy drinks, or chocolate to manage overall intake.

2. Acidic Coffee

Acidic coffee can cause nausea due to its high acidity, which can irritate the stomach lining and cause discomfort. To lessen the chances of this, consider choosing low-acid coffee options such as Brazilian or Sumatran varieties, which are known to be gentler on the stomach. Another option is to cold brew your coffee, as this can reduce its acidity and make it a milder choice.

For those who still experience nausea, adding a splash of milk or a coffee creamer can help neutralize the acidity and reduce the likelihood of discomfort. As a pro-tip, if acidic coffee continues to cause nausea, try exploring herbal teas as a caffeine-free alternative with gentle flavors and soothing properties.

Read: How To Taste Coffee: Acidity

3. Dehydration

  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, especially if consuming caffeinated beverages like coffee.
  • Monitor Urine Color: Aim for a light yellow urine color, indicating proper hydration. Dark urine may signal dehydration.
  • Consume Water-rich Foods: Include water-rich foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and oranges in your diet to boost hydration levels.
  • Limit Diuretic Intake: Reduce the consumption of diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration.

Fact: Dehydration can occur even if you don't feel thirsty, making it essential to consciously monitor your fluid intake.

4. Medication Interactions

  • Consult your healthcare provider: Before consuming coffee, especially if you are on medication, consult your healthcare provider to understand any potential interactions.
  • Know your medication: Be aware of the potential side effects and interactions of the medications you are taking.
  • Observe your body: Pay attention to any changes in your body after consuming coffee while on medication. If you experience any adverse effects, seek medical advice.
  • Adjust coffee intake: If you notice discomfort or adverse effects, consider adjusting your coffee intake or switching to decaffeinated options.

A friend of mine experienced nausea after drinking coffee while taking medication. They consulted their doctor and discovered that the interaction was causing the discomfort. After adjusting their coffee intake and making dietary changes, the nausea subsided.

How to Prevent Nausea from Coffee

prevent nausea from coffee

If you're someone who enjoys a cup of coffee but often experiences nausea afterwards, you may be wondering why this happens and how to prevent it. In this section, we will explore various solutions to this mystery and provide tips on how to prevent feeling queasy after drinking coffee. From switching to decaf to staying hydrated, there are several methods to help alleviate nausea caused by coffee. Let's dive into the details and find the best solution for you.

1. Switch to Decaf

  • Gradually transition: If you're used to regular coffee, consider switching to decaf gradually to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  • Monitor caffeine intake: Keep track of your caffeine consumption from other sources to ensure you stay within a comfortable limit.
  • Consider flavor variations: Experiment with different decaf coffee flavors and brands to find one that suits your taste buds.
  • Check for decaf options: When purchasing coffee outside, inquire about decaf options available at cafes and restaurants.

Read: 5 Reasons To Love Specialty Decaf Coffee

Transitioning to decaf can be a helpful step in addressing nausea triggered by coffee consumption. By gradually switching and trying out different decaf options, you can still enjoy the taste and routine of coffee without the negative effects of caffeine.

2. Try a Different Roast

  • Experiment with different coffee roasts to find one that's less acidic and gentler on your stomach.
  • Lighter roasts are generally less acidic and may be better tolerated by individuals prone to coffee-induced nausea.
  • Consider trying a medium or dark roast to see if the reduced acidity lessens the nausea you experience from coffee.

True story: Sarah used to experience coffee-related nausea frequently. After switching from a dark roast to a lighter roast, she noticed a significant decrease in nausea and could enjoy her daily coffee without discomfort.

3. Drink Water Before and After Coffee

  • To stay hydrated and mitigate the potential dehydrating effects of caffeine, drink a glass of water before consuming your coffee.
  • After having your coffee, follow it up with another glass of water to rehydrate and counteract the diuretic effects of caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration and nausea.

4. Avoid Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach

  • Have a light snack: Consuming a small, balanced snack before drinking coffee can help ease the impact of the brew on an empty stomach.
  • Include protein and fiber: Opt for a snack containing protein and fiber, such as a piece of fruit with some nuts or yogurt, to provide sustained energy and prevent discomfort.
  • Limit citrus consumption: Avoid consuming acidic fruits, like oranges or grapefruits, before drinking coffee to minimize the risk of stomach irritation.
  • Consider oatmeal or whole grains: These options can help provide a more substantial base for the coffee and lessen the chances of stomach upset.

Read: 3 Reasons Coffee Upsets Your Stomach (And What To Do About It)

When to See a Doctor

While occasional nausea from drinking coffee is relatively common, persistent or severe nausea may be a cause for concern. In this section, we will discuss situations in which it may be necessary to seek medical attention for coffee-induced nausea. We will explore both the potential underlying causes and the potential risks associated with chronic or severe nausea. From there, we can arm ourselves with the knowledge and understanding to make informed decisions about our health.

1. If Nausea Persists

  1. If nausea persists, despite trying various preventive measures, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.
  2. Keep track of the frequency and severity of nausea episodes to provide detailed information to the doctor.
  3. Consider keeping a food and beverage diary to identify potential triggers or patterns associated with coffee consumption and nausea.
  4. Discuss any other symptoms experienced alongside nausea, such as dizziness or stomach pain, with the doctor to aid in diagnosis.

After experiencing persistent nausea despite switching to decaf and adjusting their coffee consumption habits, Sarah sought medical advice. Through comprehensive testing, it was discovered that she had an underlying digestive condition exacerbated by coffee, emphasizing the importance of consulting a doctor if nausea persists.

2. If Nausea is Accompanied by Other Symptoms

  • If nausea is accompanied by other symptoms like severe headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting, it is important to seek medical attention.
  • Consult a healthcare professional if nausea coincides with symptoms such as dizziness, irregular heartbeat, or abdominal pain.
  • If nausea is accompanied by signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing, it is crucial to seek immediate medical help.

It is crucial to pay attention to any additional symptoms experienced alongside nausea. Always prioritize seeking medical advice if you notice any concerning signs along with the nausea.

Additional Resources

  • Medical professionals: Consult a doctor or a healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms and concerns. They can provide personalized advice and recommend suitable treatment options.
  • Nutritionist or dietitian: Seek guidance from a nutritionist to evaluate your dietary habits and identify potential triggers for nausea. They can offer tailored dietary recommendations to alleviate your symptoms.
  • Support groups: Join online or local support groups to connect with individuals who have experienced similar issues. Sharing experiences and insights with others can provide emotional support and practical strategies for managing coffee-related nausea.

After experiencing persistent coffee-induced nausea, Maria sought help from a gastroenterologist. Following a thorough evaluation, she discovered that she had developed a sensitivity to certain compounds in coffee. With the guidance of her healthcare provider and a nutritionist, she successfully managed her symptoms by making dietary adjustments and exploring alternative beverages. For additional resources, Maria also recommends consulting a doctor or joining a support group for more personalized advice and emotional support.

Frequently Asked Questions

nausea and coffee relations

Why does coffee make me feel sick?

Coffee can make you feel sick for a few reasons. It can irritate your stomach, upset your gut's microbiome, and even cause dehydration. Additionally, caffeine can stimulate gastric acid secretion, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and acid reflux.

Can certain foods worsen my coffee-induced nausea?

Yes, certain trigger foods like greasy, spicy, or acidic foods can exacerbate nausea caused by coffee. These foods may also worsen conditions like acid reflux or GERD. It's important to pay attention to your diet and consult with a healthcare provider if you experience frequent nausea after consuming coffee.

Is there a recommended amount of coffee for a healthy adult?

The recommended amount of caffeine for a healthy adult is about four cups of coffee per day. However, consuming too much caffeine can lead to unpleasant side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. It's best to limit your coffee intake to no more than two cups per day to avoid these symptoms.

I have a sensitive stomach. Can I still enjoy coffee?

If you have a sensitive stomach, it's important to pay attention to the type of coffee you consume. Cold brew coffee has less caffeine and may be easier on your stomach. Additionally, taking breaks and not drinking coffee on an empty stomach can also help alleviate nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Can drinking coffee affect my nutrient levels?

Yes, consuming too much coffee can lead to a dietary deficiency in B vitamins, iron, calcium, and magnesium. This is because coffee can impact the absorption of these nutrients in the body. Pregnant people, children, and elderly people may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and experience these deficiencies at low levels of consumption.

How can I solve the mystery of why coffee makes me nauseous?

If you're experiencing frequent nausea after consuming coffee, it's important to do some investigative work with a healthcare provider. They can help determine the root cause of your symptoms and provide guidance on managing conditions like acid reflux or GERD. Additionally, experimenting with different types of coffee, like decaf or dark roast, may also provide relief for your sensitive system.