What are the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal?

Regular caffeine consumption reduces sensitivity to caffeine. When caffeine intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine. In response to this oversensitiveness, blood pressure drops dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from one to five days, and can be alleviated with analgesics such as aspirin. It is also alleviated with caffeine intake (in fact several analgesics contain caffeine dosages).

Often, people who are reducing caffeine intake report being irritable, unable to work, nervous, restless, and feeling sleepy, as well as having a headache. In extreme cases, nausea and vomiting has also been reported.

References.

Caffeine and Health. J. E. James, Academic Press, 1991. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research Volume 158. G. A. Spiller, Ed. Alan R. Liss Inc, 1984.

Comments

Weird symptoms of withdrawal -- anyone else?

Hello -- I have the classic withdrawal symptoms (headache, anxiety), but I was wondering if anyone else has ever experienced these withdrawal symptoms as I couldn't find much reference to them on this site. They all started after I stopped drinking coffee:

-moving muscle/joint pains. very, very severe at times and then they migrate to another area (advil/tylenol does nothing to help this pain)
-thyroid pressure (feeling like your throat area is swollen) -- hard to swallow at times
-intestinal oddities -- goes between diarrhea and constipation
-twitches/fasciculations -- had it in my eye for a while and now it is in the tip of my tongue

I really feel like they are all from withdrawal since I didn't have them before stopping coffee. I hope I"m not alone.

Yup...

Muscle and joint pain, thyroid pressure, intestinal oddities all for sure. I haven't noticed twitching. I twitched more when I was on caffeine. But yes, I've experienced a lot of it.

Jackie I am replying at the

Jackie I am replying at the top again for the sake of convenience - I am glad you found my post helpful and I have remembered something else that may help a bit. When I decided to taper off, I worked out roughly how much tea I was drinking per day and then I made up a huge batch (to keep it at a stable strength) which would last me 2 weeks. I then stabilised on what I thought was the amount I usually drank, after 2 weeks I then cid the same again (made another big batch) and cut the daily amount by 10%. I realise now that that completely changed my attitude to tea, instead of being an enjoyable treat, it was quite horrible to have to drink this nasty tasting cold stuff every day, it turned tea into an addictive substance which I no longer enjoyed. Unfortunately for me, I jumped off at too high a dose, because I thought I would be ok, and I couldn't bear to go back on it again, but if I had carried on tapering for another 3 or 4 months I think I would have recovered much more quickly.

Re the flu, i thought I was better yesterday, but it is back in spades today.

PS thanks for telling me you didn't enjoy the chocolate, I will remember that...

60 year habit

Thanks - that's a really good idea (about making up batches of tea). I've already been watering down my milky coffee to make it less comforting and tasty. I actually dislike coffee which is just made with water and a splash of milk. Now there's an idea - I could start to drink it like that - that would soon act as aversion therapy and take away the comfort factor! Thanks.
Did the doc say how long the swine flu symptoms might take to disappear? Hoping you feel better soon. Best wishes. Jackie

Jackie, and try it cold and

Jackie, and try it cold and 10 days old from the fridge, disgusting!!!

No gp didn't give a time scale but a friend has had it for 4 weeks, and I am at the end of my third week.
I don't think you will take as long as me to recover whatever method you use, I am a genetic oddity I fear…

very best wishes

17 days clean... very light-headed

17 days without caffeine. My headache, which was incredibly bad, has dropped to a light dull sensation.

The worst for me is occasional brain fogginess and the light-headed/dizzy feeling. I have a constant light-headed sensation where it feels like I just don't have my balance.

Has anyone else experienced that sensation through withdrawal? That, combined with my withdrawal anxiety is making for a scary day-to-day experience. Anyone know WHY withdrawal would cause light-headedness? Is it because the blood vessels in the head are now no longer being constricted and that there is more blood flow?

To 17 Days Clean...

I felt the same way at about the same point. I'm a month into withdrawal and the brain fog and lightheadedness is mostly gone, but there are still times when I feel that way. I went through a good two week stretch where I constantly felt disconnected, couldn't focus on anything, and felt like I was going to faint at a moment's notice. It's all a part of the withdrawal, but it will go away. I'm still fighting the anxiety, but I'm hoping that will clear up soon too. Keep fighting the fight.

To 17 Days Clean: Re Lightheaded

About 3 weeks to a month off caffeine, I switched from headache into alternating days of tension headache with cloudy/blurry vision and lightheaded feelings. A few weeks into that I had visual migraine-like headaches (no pain, pretty colors).

Now I'm nearly at 5 months cold turkey, I still occasionally get lightheaded feelings when I am anxious. They last a few minutes and pass.

This phase will pass. Stay strong and drink lots of water.

Jackie

Jackie, thanks for all your interesting news. Re your last post (on another page), I don't think you will find that your symptoms wane as you taper (not in my experience anyway), I think you will have to get through a lot of horrible symptoms until after you have been "clean" for some time (months and months in my case. I am telling you this so that you don't get discouraged if it happens to you.

And I am another person who didn't get the headaches either until I had been off caffeine for a month or two, then I started getting weird head sensations and pain in bits of my head that I didn't know existed, but that only went on for 3 or 4 months.

If you can cut down even more slowly than I did, that gives your receptors and neurons time to adapt to the new circumstances instead of giving them a really big shock.

If you are getting bad days, that is a sign that you are cutting down too fast. A general rule for tapering is 10% every 2 weeks, (not ten percent of the total amount divided up, but 10% of your new total after every cut), and if you get bad days you need to leave more weeks between the cuts. (I wish i had, but I was too impatient to be off)

And please don't even mention chocolate, I haven't had any for soooooo long…..

To 60 year habit

Thanks for this - it was actually very helpful. I think I've been expecting to be better, too quickly - as you say, I need to allow time so that my brain chemistry can adjust. I've always been an all or nothing sort of person and so, because I wanted a quick-fix, I would inevitably fail. I have hopefully found some common sense at last and will carry on with my weaning but will strictly monitor the amount I'm having. At least that will be taking it in the right direction......and I'll just have to accept that it's going to take time and that I AM going to feel like hell.
You made me laugh about the chocolate but it actually wasn't that nice - at least I've lost my taste for that!
Thanks again and let me know how you're doing - and with the swine 'flu. Jackie

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