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.


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.


I am on day 7 of no coffee

I am on day 7 of no coffee and I have had severe headaches and SEVERE leg, thigh, and hip pain. I was beginning to think the same thing, that there has got to be something wrong with me. But after reading all of these comments I realize that it is from the caffeine withdrawal. I really hope this pain in my legs and the headaches go away soon because it is unbearable and I really need to get a good nights sleep! I cant wait to kick this awful habit for good without the pain that comes along with it.

Intense pain on withdrawal

I got into a cycle of depression and excessive coffee drinking, which I eventually quit. I guess I was on a heavy dose of 4 or 5 mugs of filter coffee when I quit. I had headache for a couple of days but worse than that, severe joint pain, especially in my legs.

Having said that I did start to feel clearer and fresher, even when I had the pain. But the pain took a good couple of weeks to go completely. Painkillers helped. The first week I allowed myself a small cup in the afternoon each only, and no other. Almost instantly at that time I felt the effect of the caffine relieving the joint pain, which also made me worried about just how powerful an effect it had.

I can see there's some sense in suddenly quitting, when it's so hard. But if you can try a limiting amount for 1 or 2 weeks first (such as one cup at a set time every day and nothing else) it might educe the withdrawal pain a bit.

Back pain & fatigue! Wow, I

Back pain & fatigue!
Wow, I was on the internet searching effects of caffeine withdrawal and your comments hit home. I've just quit cold turkey, on day 4 and the headaches are gone, but the joint pain in my back is strange! Like you, it went away with advil, but sort of scares me about why?? It's probably been 11 years since I've gone completely without, when I was pregnant and nursing. But even then I did have a little. I'm drinking only water this time and never experienced joint pain and fatigue like this.

caffine is a drug

caffine is a drug and it can actualy block the pain reseperters in your brain. I used to drink coffee because i had races in the morning at like 4 AM. I quit now and have been free for 3 weeks. i still am not feeling clear yet and my sleep pattern is all messed up. Right now, i am just a mess and it is going to take some time for my brain to recover. I kinda feel like a meth adict in a way. So, good luck to you all.


Well I had the most important exam session last week and had been drinking 2 cups of relatively strong coffee (300-400 mg i guess) Today I only drank a small cup of espresso - cutting it down slowly. IT is evening here and in this very moment I'm feeling quite fatigued and have this weird pain in my back and in my knees. I'm gonna try to stop coffee altogether since my bowels burn and i get heartburn sometimes as well. I also dislike the whole idea of being dependent of some substance.
How long to be at 100% again? I've been drinking 1-2 cups a day for 4 months now with 1 week pauses.

Curious, did you take the CFA

Curious, did you take the CFA exam? I just took it as well on Saturday.

cfa addiction

I took the cfa exam, now I'm on day 4 sans coffee. I had to up my dose to get through studying. I've so far been able to manage the symptoms with lots of water, excercise, and ibuprofen. I was drinking maybe 5 cups per day.

How to help the leg pain

I'm on day 4 (or 6, depending on how you count - I'll explain in a bit) and into my 3rd day of serious leg pain. I mean screaming, can't-focus-on-anything-else, difficult-to-walk pain. How do you alleviate this symptom?!? I have a desk job so I thought maybe the lack of exercise was making it last longer than "average". So last night I walked for 45 minutes - my legs still woke me up at 4:30 this morning and I think they are worse, if anything. I'm drinking water like a fiend. Never been big into over-the-counter medication so I haven't taken aspirin or alleve or anything.

Something has to help. I've even found myself wondering if I need to go back to the bean just to make it stop. The only thing keeping me on the wagon at this point is I don't know if/how fast that would help. I know all about the headache and exactly how much coffee it takes to make that go away but the leg pain... WIMPER.

My waffling on the days is because I chose to quit cold-turkey in the middle of suffering one of the worst stomach bugs of my life (school age kids - gotta love em). Regular coffee intake on Friday (about 24 oz, regular brew, every morning for the last 6 years), vomitting Friday night, didn't get out of bed or have coffee on Saturday (I certainly had a headache that day but bug or withdrawal, who can say?), tried to "normalize" on Sunday but only managed to choke down a few sips of coffee and that is when it finally occured to my illness-ridden brain that this is my opportunity to quit the bean. So I'm on day 6 if you ignore the Sunday sips or day 4 if you count them.

Pluses of this "detox method" is that I definitely feel like I skated through the headache dept - was suffering anyway and since I so rarely can spend a whole day in bed, I feel like I really managed that well. But the leg thing took me totally by surprise and I am not happy! Make it go away!

Caffeine-induced muscular pain - ibupofen

Persevere! Try a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin (but don't take on an empty stomach as it will irritate the stomach lining). You'll see results and start to feel fine by day8...HONEST!

I went cold turkey; was expecting a headache at the start, but this did not materlialise to the extent I imagined and there was no craving for coffee. Day 2 foggy-headed, depressed and listless and very tearful. Day 3-4 arms and legs like lead weights, irritable, unable to concentrate on anything, a complete 'can't be bothered/cannot muster any energy for work' attitude and intense cramping of thighs, glutteal muscles (buttocks) and lower back - couldn't sit, stand, walk or sleep - AGONY. Pain releaved by popping ibuprofen 2x day. Day 8 and the pain has disappeared, the world is back in glorious technicolour and my senses and memory have been sharpened 1000-fold. So please hang on in there. It will take about 14 days for everything to re-adjust itself; this is the time taken for adenosine receptor downregulation in the brain to take place, in the absense of caffeine, and for the adrenal glands to start producing the correct level of adenosine to circulate in the blood. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors, meaning that the adrenals have to works extra hard to secete a sufficient amount of adenosine. Once the caffeine disappears, there is too much adenosine circulating in the blood. This affects the blood vessels causing them to constrict and this is what you feel as pain in your muslces. Blood vessels constrict, oxygen cannot be transported to muscles (and lactic acid and carbon dioxide excreted) and you get muscle spams and stiffness and that awful wont-go-away caffeine PAIN. Eventually, things are normalised and the adrenals recover and start to produce the correct level of adenosine and you start to feel normal. Your adrenals are no longer overworked and you have more energy WITHOUT the coffee.
Make sure you have enough sleep during the 'cold turkey' period mind.... all part of the self-healing process. And don't get despondent. Remember there are countless other pour souls around the globe who are going through exactly the same as you are. You'll succeed. Good luck :o)

I think I've made it. Day 11

I think I've made it. Day 11 (or 13) and I no longer have any of the leg pain from my previous post. I was still getting twitches but could tell it was improving by day 9 or so. And I did end up taking ibuprofen for 2 nights (around day 6 and 7) in order to be able to sleep. But now I miss it! Not the taste or the "ceremony" of it - just the pick-me-up. Into the mental stage of withdrawal, I guess. I'm tired - just dragging and could fall asleep just about anytime, anywhere. Sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night and the 7 hours feels like not nearly enough. I am better on 9 hours but really, who has 9 hours to devote to sleep?!? The leg pain experience is now helping me though - anything whose withdrawal can be that painful canNOT be good for you! I don't care how many anti-oxidants it has or how many studies says it helps prevent Parkinsons and colon cancer. I'll get my antioxidants from a non-addictive source, than you very much!
Thanks for the support and listening - it also helps!

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