What Is the Connection between Coffee and Nausea?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2018
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The primary connection between coffee and nausea is that coffee is a stomach irritant and can cause stomach upset, including nausea. Some people are more sensitive to this effect than others, and food consumption before drinking coffee can have an effect on stomach-related symptoms. Coffee may also raise blood pressure and cause feelings of dizziness, both of which can also lead to nausea if not treated. In some cases, the beverage can also cause heartburn and diarrhea.

Nausea is often linked to coffee consumption because coffee contains high levels of caffeine. This can lead to stomach irritation, dizziness, heart palpitations, and raised blood pressure. Each of these things individually can result in nausea in some people, and symptoms may be worse with they are combined. Some people can tolerate coffee consumption better than others, and there are many factors that may increase or decrease the effects of coffee.

For some people, drinking coffee on an empty stomach can result in nausea. When there are no other contents to buffer the effects of the acidic nature of the drink, increased stomach upset can occur. For this reason, many people find that it is a good idea to only drink coffee with a meal or directly before or after a meal. Eating will also decrease the likelihood of feeling woozy or dizzy and may help keep blood pressure problems at bay.


The high caffeine content in coffee can also lead to dehydration, which is a major risk factor for nausea. When drinking a coffee beverage, some people find that it helps to have a glass of water for every cup of coffee consumed. Aside from keeping the body hydrated and reducing the risk of nausea, water can also provide an energy boost and additional coffee may not be needed.

The strength of the brew may also play a part in nausea symptoms. Although enthusiasts of lighter and darker roasts have argued over which type has more caffeine for years, more recent findings suggest that there is no significant difference. Strength of the brew apparently has more to do with the type of coffee and the volume of the coffee. For example, since lightly roasted coffee beans are smaller in size than dark roast, a scoop of light roast will contain more coffee than a scoop of dark roast, and therefore more caffeine. The caffeine content and strength of either type can be reduced by adding more water and less coffee, or adding milk to dilute it further. Drinking decaffeinated coffee is also a good alternative.

Additionally, there are coffee blends that are specially made for those with stomach issues. They are designed to be gentler on the digestive system and cause fewer bouts of nausea and other symptoms. Most grocery stores carry them, and different manufacturers may have their own blends.


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Post 18

Interesting. I thought that the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content.

Post 17

If coffee is making you feel ill then try hot black tea with milk and sugar, basically "English breakfast tea." It's very similar to drinking coffee but has less caffeine and won't cause an upset stomach and diarrhea as easily as coffee. Just buy a box of Yorkshire or PG Tips tea. It helped me.

Post 12

My son has cyclical vomiting syndrome and was on three medications for nausea. We'd tried essential oils, herbal teas -- you name it. After four years, the only thing stopping the vomiting was IV drugs until we gave him his first cup of coffee. He didn't throw up that day. In a week's time he'd gone off the meds, wasn't throwing up and was more energetic. He is still getting healthier. One cup of coffee has been better than zofran, Ativan or phenergren. I just wish I could find out why it helped him so.

Post 11

@StarJo – Have you ever tried non-dairy creamer? You can get it in a variety of sweet flavors. Switching to that for a week or so would be a good test to see if your nausea goes away.

If it doesn't, you should stop drinking coffee for awhile and see if it is the culprit. There's a chance that neither one is the cause of your pain, but you won't know until you try eliminating them one at a time.

I do have a problem with dairy, so switching to a non-dairy creamer helped me out significantly. I was so happy to discover that I didn't have to give up my coffee!

Post 10

I have been having nausea and bloating in the mornings. I use a dairy creamer, so I considered the fact that it might be causing my stomach issues.

After reading this article, though, I think it may be the actual coffee that is causing a problem. How can I tell if I am reacting to the creamer or the coffee? I can't drink coffee black, so I have to have some sort of creamer.

Post 9

My friend has severe acid reflux, and her way of preventing nausea was eliminating coffee from her morning routine. She was just too sensitive to the acid, so she had to give it up entirely.

Post 8

I often had to choose between headaches and nausea when deciding whether to skip my morning coffee. If I drank it, I would feel nauseated, but if I didn't, I would get a headache until I did consume some caffeine.

This was before I started eating breakfast. I used to just grab my coffee and go to work, and it would be a couple of hours before I ate a snack.

Once I started eating cereal and a banana every morning with my coffee, I stopped having nausea. The caffeine kept the headaches away, so all was well.

Post 7

The article mentions that there are coffee blends for people with sensitive stomachs. Where can I find one? I don't think I have ever seen one in a grocery store or coffee shop.

Post 6

I have no problems drinking one or two cups of coffee. But If I get up into the 4 and beyond category, I definitely start to feel it in my stomach. It gurgles a lot and sometimes I feel like I am going to throw up. It happens every time, so now I just try and limit my coffee intake.

Post 4

Instant coffee is less healthy than roasted/brewed coffee, because of the processes used to make it.

Post 3

@flowerchild--Instant coffee is still basically regular coffee with most of the water removed. There are no chemical additives or changes made to it. My guess is that it depends on your stomach contents or lack thereof. Other than that, perhaps you need the coffee a little more diluted with water? Play around with it to see what works best for you.

I had a similar problem and when I experimented, I did find that for whatever the reason, I can drink brewed coffee but not instant.

Post 2

I have noticed that I can get a bought of nausea or stomach upset after drinking instant coffee. Regular roasted and brewed coffee does not seem to bother me. Has anyone heard of this? Is it the way instant is made?

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