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

Help?

I'm 15 and I've been drinking coke for a while. Two to three cans a day, and they're small cans. But I got sick and I knew I shouldn't be drinking coke while being sick, so I started to drink orange juice and water.. Well, for a few nights now, I've been feeling like I can't breathe and my heart races and I can't sleep. I went to the doctor and he said everything was fine with me.. So, could I be feeling this way simply because I haven't been drinking coke?

Caffeine withdrawal day 6.

I have been off all caffeine for 6 days now. After a few days of slight headache, I thought that was it, now I am going through other symptoms. Aches and pains and restlessness but I am determined not to give up as I've come this far. I just want everyone to know that milk has been of great help to me. Plain old full cream milk just heated in the microwave and sipped slowly has given me some relief from the symptoms. I have also taken 2 paracetamol when things get really bad. I hope this is of some help to fellow sufferers. Best wishes for Christmas from the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

Tanya, don't give up.

Tanya, don't give up. Feeling like a completely new person is around the corner. Took me 2 weeks. It is amazing how much better you will feel. I'm starting caffeine free again. Was doing great for 4 months than just had one Mt. Dew and fell into the habit again. :( One Mt Dew is great for a little pick me up to do my chores, than I need more and more to get the same lift and to not feel run down. THAN 1 month later I am chugging the stuff to not go through withdrawels and get headaches!!!!!!!! A great book to read is "Caffeine Blues" It goes into detail of the effects of caffeine on your mind and body. I'm here cheering you on!!
Kim

Long term problems after quitting 12 cup habit

Hi,
I wanted to know if anybody else feels like they've had long term withdrawal problems. Over about 10 years I went from very little caffeine to needing about 4 cups, or a full dark french press worth in the morning just to avoid a headache. Another at lunch. If I needed to feel up, I'd have several more equivalent shots. I had to quit because I could not sleep if I had any after lunch and if I did that then I'd be a complete bear in the evenings around my family and wake up with a headache in the morning (early withdrawal). My vision would also get blurry if I got stressed out and i got generally sensitive to lights and sound. I finally succeeded in quiting about 3 years ago, after going through terrible acute withdrawal. I get massive migraines (which as a guy, I'd never had before) between days 3-5 of cold turkey. I can get through that because I know it goes away after that. My problem was that I'd feel dumb and slow and had no motivation to do anything. I now know this as mild depression, which I was OK with as long as I could just mope around the house. But I felt that my family needed me to get stuff stuff done, or my wife would complain about low sex drive, and I'd fall off the wagon. To get off completely, I had to quit work and lay low. I'd use what little energy I had to get basic housework done. The depression has lifted verrrrrrry slowly, but worse, I seem to have worse sleep problems than before (I used to lay awake and think too much but now I've developed sleep apnea instead). Also, my nose is dry and swells shut at night, which did not happen when I was obeying my addiction. The apnea literature says that caffeine can help, so I'm trying to figure out what affect coming off of a big addiction has had on the tissues around my throat and nose. If I have a little caffeine, it seems to help a little. But i dont want to have a bunch to see if it clears up completely. In the meantime, I've been trying to take up chamomile, meditation and yoga, but I was raised red neck and its been really hard to get all hippy like this.
Advice welcome,
Ed

Hi Ed, LOL on your comment

Hi Ed,
LOL on your comment about "getting all hippy" with chamomile, yoga and meditation, but I just want to let you know that (at least based on my experience) what you are going through is definitely part of withdrawing from the caffeine drug. Having a little caffeine WILL ease some of the symptoms, but it's kind of like paying one credit card with another.

I once read that it takes A FULL YEAR for your body to completely return/heal from a caffeine addiction and I believe it. The longest I could go was four months.

It sucks. I hope you hang in there.

Answer To The Last Two Posts

Hi Everyone. In response to the previous two posts, I would like to offer an update. I was a frequent contributor to this forum, along with someone named Dave, about a year ago. Like you, I had gone through the physical agony of caffeine withdrawal including the nightmare headaches, body aches, pain around my heart and shakes. After four months I felt like a new person! I slept deeply and soundly, had tons of energy and FINALLY had no more tinnitus (ringing in my ears). I stopped coming here to post and everything was going well.

UNTIL one Sunday morning when I smelled that wonderful coffee aroma as my husband brewed a pot and I grabbed a cup. I clearly remember saying to him "Oh, it's been 16 weeks - what harm can one cup do?"

And just like that, I was once again addicted. That cup led to one more that Sunday, one on Tuesday morning, blah blah blah. I sleep like crap again, my ears ring and in all, I'm disgusted with myself. Guess what my New Year's resolution is? :) (Love you guys!)

Hi, Denise :) Long time, no

Hi, Denise :) Long time, no see. I can only assume that I'm the Dave you were talking about, because I don't remember another Dave posting on here. I'm ashamed to admit that I too am back on caffeine, heavily. After going over one month of being caffeine free, I started to feel great. I was calmer, happier, and had the same steady energy throughout the day. However, I also developed bad sleep issues, like waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. Long story short, I"m back on caffeine. I've also decided to pursue my dream of being a medical doctor, so I'm back in school. I'm going to try to quit again this Summer, when things will be more relaxed and, hopefully I will be more successful. But until then, things will be (and have been) way too hectic.

I'm sorry to see that you too have fallen back in. It's tough because when you start using caffeine again, you feel incredible for the first few weeks. It truly is a drug! I wish you nothing but the best of luck in your quest to again kick the habit. Happy New Year to you and everyone here,

Dave

Now I have to get back that damn CAPTCHA. Why must it be so difficult?!?

Hi Dave!

Hi Dave - yes, my friend, you are the Dave to whom I was referring. :-)

And here we are, both back under the influence of our Dark Master. UG! I'm so sorry to see a fellow poster fall as hard as I have. Congratulations on your medical field pursuit - what a wonderful goal you have! As for the sleep issues, you are absolutely correct - I found that the first two months of being clean were the worst as far as my sleep patterns - I would fall off to sleep almost instantly, sleep deeply for about two hours and then sleep fitfully for the rest of the night. My God, I can't imagine what caffeine is really, truly doing to our bodies.

I always come back to this board for support, including this morning when I saw your post - thank you! Now that the holidays are over, my traveling is behind me and I am thoroughly disgusted with myself for once again having to face a new and horrible withdrawal, I am making "THE VOW" once again, LOL.

My birthday is May 5th, which is 17 weeks from tomorrow. I'm going to drink coffee all day today and then that's it!!!!! A 17-week detox. Please wish me luck and I hope you, too, will succeed at some point in getting clean and de-caffeinated. Cyber hug! :-) Denise

Great to see on here again!

Great to see on here again! As for me, the sad part is that I never made the connection between the sleep problems and continued caffeine withdrawal. I had been free of caffeine for over a month and felt great, so it did not occur to me that my problems were caffeine-related. Now, after reading your story and the stories of others, I strongly believe that caffeine withdrawal was the culprit. Since being on caffeine, I have not had one experience of waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. If these problems occur next time, I'm going straight to the doctor, and hopefully he can help.

I've taken the last few days off of caffeine in an attempt to lower my tolerance, as I was drinking way too much. My head is killing me and I threw up several times, and was also up for quite awhile last night. Thankfully, the worst seems to be over. I truly hope your latest attempt at withdrawal goes well. Please post and let us all know that you are okay :) You have my total e-support.

Dave

Caffeine Addiction is Real

It is good to read that others have the same experience with regards to caffeine addiction. My husband doesn't understand that it's "all or nothing" for me, and that I can't just have some every once in awhile. I don't remember it having such impacts in my early 20s, but definitely since I was 25 or 26 (I'm 31 now).

Caffeine strongly affects my mood (providing a very effective upper), energy levels, and I always crave more after I've had even a few sips. I detox about once a year, usually, and this time I want it to stick (even though I will miss the taste of coffee).

I have recently been diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease and am trying to support my adrenal glands (meaning NO caffeine!).

Happy New Year to you and here's to a caffeine-free 2011!

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