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.


DAY 63

I forget 60 year habit, how much caffeine were you drinking daily before you quit? It sounds like it must have been a lot.

I can't say at day 63 I'm at 100%. I still have some allergies at night with the dry nose symptoms. I still have back pains. But, I remain hopeful that my symptoms will disappear in time. That book said that it takes 3 years of being totally off of caffeine to get that stuff out of every organ of our bodies.

Today is Thursday, so Tuesday I skipped a day of exercising. I was getting worn out from too much exercise. However, skipping a day brought on that feeling of weakness like it's a mild flu. I was feeling about 70% of normal yesterday up until I did my first sit ups before going to the gym. The sit ups by themselves helped me jump from 70% to 90% normal. After work out, I was nearly 100%. I woke up this morning (Thursday) feeling 100% but have dropped to 95%. So I think my problem is a cortisol deficiency since exercise creates cortisol. This tells me that my adrenal glands are completely healed yet, but getting better. I'm not a doctor, but this makes sense to me.

I asked you before if you've gone to see an endocrinologist? Your reply was about your trip to the emergency room. An endocrinologist can do specialized tests on your adrenal glands, pancreas, thyroid, pituitary glands, etc. I'm just not sure that an emergency room really has enough specialized knowledge to examine your endocrine system on the level that would be helpful. Plus, an endocrinologist might be able to suggest (or prescribe) treatment that will help your endocrine system to heal quicker. You may have done all of this, but it's just seems like a good way to go to me. What do you think?

DAY 54

I'm still noticing improvement. While my energy level still isn't 100% all of the time, it's roughly 85% most of the time. I'm happy with that. There haven't been any doom and gloom thoughts for at least 10 days. Yay! I'm really happy with that.

@60 year habit: I got that book that you suggested, "Welcome to the Dance". I find it interesting that she says that it takes 3 years of total abstinence from caffeine to experience a total detox of caffeine from every organ in the body. Hang in there! The 60 day mark that I've read on this forum and other places on the internet, seems to be a reliable milestone for me based on my progress. I did read in this book that exercise helps to speed up the detox process. Coincidentally, I exercised hard and on a regular basis no matter how bad I felt. This might have helped me. Plus, last summer I had kidney stones (another caffeine related illness) for the first time in my life. The urologist suggest that I started drinking lemon water and drop coffee. While I didn't listen to his suggestion to drop coffee, I did start drinking 2 full glasses of lemon water every morning when I first wake up. I wanted to rehydrate my body and prevent the return of the kidney stones. It turns out that lemon water helps to detox the body. I did not read this in the book, but I'm thinking that the lemon water (in addition to the exercise) might have help speed up the detox process. I'm not a doctor, but it sounds logical. I don't think this could hurt you 60-year-habit and it might actually help... maybe. :)

In retrospect, I can see symptoms of my caffeine addiction and how it all fits into place. I'm glad that caffeine is all I did: no smoking, no drugs, and no drinking. It made it easier to figure out what my problem was even when the doctor sent me away saying there's nothing wrong with me. I feel fortunate.

Pieces of the puzzle that make sense now include the kidney stones, fatigue, and vertigo. The vertigo I was previously able to connect to aspartame. If there was aspartame in anything even without my knowledge, I would experience vertigo. Now I'm thinking that caffeine contributed to the vertigo by pushing my endocrine system to the point where it was especially sensitive to aspartame. Again, it's a guess on my part, but it seems logical.

In conclusion, I'm pretty optimistic about the future. And I'm confident that detoxing off of caffeine will be one of the best things I've ever done!

"Step 1 Practice patience and

"Step 1
Practice patience and start slowly. One of the biggest challenges that you may face while attempting to rebuild muscle is overcoming the realization that your body is not physically capable of the feats it used to be prior to atrophy. You will have to gradually work up to your fitness goals again"

a quote from a site I got when I googled "how to build up muscle after wasting away" (on azcentral).

It is going to take me a very long time, because I have to wait for the fatigue to improve as well……….

Hello Michael, I am also

Hello Michael,

I am also unable to do what I used to be able to do on caffeine, I used to walk incredibly fast everywhere (I was known for it, nobody could keep up), now I feel as though I am wading through water and feel as if I am walking incredibly slowly but when I compare myself with other people on the street, I am in reality walking at the same pace as them ie a normal walking pace.

I have tried exercise with no success, it makes my back ache incredibly bad and the fatigue becomes a thousand times worse, I found a useful link will try and post it later. I do walk for at least half an hour a day though and more usually.
You say "Now the pain is slightly higher between my shoulder blades." exactly like me so it MUST be caffeine induced.

I have just got back from hospital because I took Jayson's advice and got my chest and arm pain checked out, after I went to the ER, they kept me in for x rays blood tests and I was hooked up to machines all night for tests, it was stressful and exhausting but thank goodness, there is nothing wrong with my heart, they were mystified but I didn't mention that I had had these symptoms for the past 14 months after coming off caffeine!! Too much for them to believe…….

Day 45

I think it was wise to not mention that you had those symptoms for the past 14 months after coming off caffeine. They may not have tried as hard to find a cause. I would find it reassuring that they didn't find anything. That reinforces your knowledge that it is the caffeine withdrawal and someday it will come to an end and you will recover. After 60 years, it is going to take a good while longer that someone like me that was only on it 6 years. I'm assuming that you're still making slow, but steady progress??

My back still hurts between my shoulder blades today, but I do have upbeat news. My energy level has felt pretty good for the past 3 days. The energy level has come and gone ever since I stopped caffeine 45 days ago, but this is the longest stretch of a normal energy level that I've felt. I'm expecting to still cycle through ups and downs of having energy and not having energy, but I'm hopeful that the having energy will continue to be longer and longer and the not having energy will be shorter and shorter.

Hi michael, I am so glad you

Hi michael, I am so glad you are getting your energy back - that is good news. Yes I am making steady progress, although the fatigue seems never ending. I think you will get longer and longer periods of having energy, so you might be back to "normal" very soon.

I often think of John C, Mandy, Dave and all the others (and Jackie) and wonder how they are doing, I am in touch with Lisa and I know she is still struggling and having a hard time, although she too is very gradually improving. I hope they are all getting or are already better.

Day 35

The comments on this site has helped a lot. I quit caffeine on April 04, 2014. Things are getting better. Sometimes I feel 100%, but then tiredness settles back in. But, I'm not as tired as I once was. Depression is gone. Reading everything on this site has helped me be patient until at least the 60 day mark. The pain in my back is my pancreas, I'm sure. Considering my mother died of pancreatic cancer, it has freaked me out a little bit. This site has helped me tell myself that this is likely not a real concern, but a concern that is a symptom of my withdrawal.

The events leading up to me stopping caffeine started in December 2013.

December 2013

Out of the blue, I felt extremely fatigued. It surprised me because I'm usually so high energy going non-stop from the time I wake up until bed time. (Now I realize that was caffeine induced mania.) I went to the doctor and he ran blood tests. Everything came back fine. By the time I got the results, I also felt normal again. Coincidentally I had stopped caffeine for a few days. I just figured that I had been going to hard for too long. I started caffeine again and was fine.

February 2014

Out of the blue, I experienced partial blindness for 25 minutes. Then twice more over the next 3 days. I researched what was going on and then confirmed it with an eye doctor visit. I had experienced aura migraines which are pain free, but does interfere with my eyesight. These are very common as it turns out and the source is stress. At the time from October 2013 to February 2014, I had been trying to buy a house much more expensive than the one in which I currently live. The guy from whom I was trying to buy it was flipping the house. He kept promising it would be done in November, then December, then January, etc... I really wanted the house, but I felt constant non-stop stress. I'm sure that coffee didn't help. Anyway, I gave up on buying the house and immediately felt all my stress melt away.

April 2014

Out of the blue, I felt extremely fatigued again. I had started taking Claritin a couple of weeks before for some extreme allergies that I was experiencing. I was trying to ride out the fatigue by just resting again, but this time I wasn't getting any better. I was actually getting worse. I was having trouble breathing. My right lung actually hurt. I had researched where this could be a rare allergic reaction to Claritin. It seemed odd to have an allergic reaction to allergy medicine, but it is possible. I immediately stopped Claritin and coffee and went to the doctor. The doctor told me there was nothing wrong with me. Just to be safe, stay off the Claritin. Now come on. I knew there was something wrong with me. Being off the Claritin and caffeine slowly allowed my breathing to come back.

May 2014

In hindsight, I find it interesting that instinctively, I quit caffeine with each fatigue episode. I didn't think about caffeine causing it. My body just knew it needed rest and subconsciously my mind had me give up coffee. Since giving up caffeine 35 days ago, I have experience most of the symptoms that I've found on this website.

01. Fatigue
02. Depression
03. Weakness / lack of energy
04. Weight loss
05. Back pain which I think is my pancreas hurting
06. Headaches
07. Foggy thinking
08. Dizziness
09. A little nausea
10. Constipation

More and more frequently I'm having more energy and thinking clearly. At day 35, I'm having an off day with a lack of energy. But, I now trust that's temporary and my energy level could come back at any moment. My weight loss has stopped and leveled out. My back actually didn't start noticeably hurting until last week and it's gradually gotten worse. It hurts today. Not significantly, but enough for me to know it's there. I'm guessing that maybe it's part of the process of my endocrine system rebooting. I hope so because my mother died of pancreatic cancer, so it freaks me out a little. This site is helping to ignore those thoughts for now. Lastly, I still struggle with the constipation as of today. Never never had that problem before. I mention my symptoms as of day 35 in case it helps anyone else on day 35.

I'm starting to look at the house buying stress as pushing me over the edge (the straw that broke the camel's back) as a blessing helping me see what stress the caffeine was putting on me. I didn't even realize it. I'm just looking forward to 60 days!!

Hello Michael, I just wanted

Hello Michael, I just wanted to tell you that now I have been off over a year (and I am sure it won't take you this long), I have started to lose some of my other allergies ….. I think they were caused by caffeine, so perhaps the same will happen for you.

My back ache hip ache everything ache does not go on all the time now, it comes on at the end of the day or as soon as I start doing too much, which doesn't take long as I am still wiped out with fatigue and muscle weakness. I too have times when I think my symptoms are all sinister, but as you say, this seems to be part of the process, as does the changing and waxing and waning of symptoms. Anyway, I hope your rapid improvement continues.

Hello Anonymous (60 year old

Hello Anonymous (60 year old habit), Thanks for your encouragement. Can I ask if your back hurting was your muscles? I'm sure that mine is not my muscles. Mine feels more like the pancreas because it only hurts if I press on that spot in my back. I'd like to hear from anyone that has anything of value to share concerning the back pain. Since it didn't start until a couple of weeks ago, I'm going to think positively and trust it's just a withdrawal symptom. The timing of it makes sense. And the fact that the pancreas is attached to the adrenal glands and both are part of the same endocrine system, it makes sense. But I've only found two references to "pancreas" in this forum. And, I haven't found anything very descriptive about the back pain.

Thanks for responding!

Hello again, when I first

Hello again, when I first came off the worst part of the back pain was in that area around the adrenals, luckily I didn't know it was the pancreatic area, or I might have been even more worried, since then it has moved around and I now get it in the hips, and in the middle of my upper back and neck, I don't know whether it is muscular or not, it is definitely very very painful and any activity makes it worse, apart from first thing in the morning when It is actually better when I have been moving around a bit. try googling liquid stress, caffeine cup of pain.

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