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

For how long?

What was the longest that any of you had to deal with gastro related problems from caffeine withdrawals? For me back in 2011 it was about 5 months. This time around since I had the relapse two months ago, I will have to wait and see.

Iced teas

Btw it was not coffee that is causing my stomach problems. It's from drinking lots of iced teas.

Stomach problems after quitting coffee

Yes, Yes, Yes, I'm soooo glad someone else is getting stomach/gastrointestinal hell after quitting coffee. I went looking on the Internet hoping someone else was having the same problems I have been having. Was off coffee for 4 days and the stomach issues kicked my butt so bad I had to go back on as I felt like I was gonna die from the nausea, gas, cramping, lethargy, joint pain and general outlook that the world is a horrible place. I'm 58 but felt like I was 100 years old and one foot in the grave. One cup and all is good, but I know what is down the road, which is more of the same issues I've had with coffee for decades. I'm very sensitive to it and get hooked immediately, then after a few days the high turns into a more "wired" feeling, can't think deeply on any one subject, can't sleep and just a general feeling I'm loosing it mentally and physically. I become more reactive and people generally just piss me off....all this after just 3 to 5 days drinking 1 to 2 cups of coffee. Some encourage ment to try again would be much appreciated, and anyone else that has gastrointestinal issue after stopping please say so and how long all that lasted to give me some hope it will finally go away. Thanks....

upallnight

Hi, I'm 64 and having been having problems with caffeine (coffee) for 50 years (apart from a 2 year gap). I can identify with absolutely everything you said - except my stomach problems are not too bad, strangely - so I do get how difficult it is. Re your stomach problems, I do know that coffee is very acidic and that this plays havoc with the whole digestive system so, as you are aware, your stomach won't get better till you stop having it (easier said than done, I know - I've been struggling for over 3 years to wean/stop). You could try having more alkaline foods to help with the acidity. I would guess that how long it takes to improve, after stopping caffeine, would depend on how long you've been drinking it and the state of your digestive system - all people are different so I don't think there's a set time. I mean you see that some people feel better, generally, in a couple of weeks but, for some, it takes months and months. Anyway, one thing I do know is that it's possible to feel better, physically, and regain better brain function/ mood. Good luck and hope someone with more experience can help you. Jackie

yes, i had it for several

yes, i had it for several months after i tapered off caffeine.

Digestive and sleep problems

I quit caffeine again about two months ago and after I quit I have been having digestive and sleep issues. My stomach has a slight ache with some flatulence and my bowels are all out of wack. I had to drink prune juice to help things but even that made my tummy hurt. Also my sleep pattern is bad. I wake up throughout the night and can't get a good nights sleep. Can this still be caffeine withdrawals? If so, how long more can it last???

Sounds like what happened to me

Withdrawal from caffeine is not pleasant in my experience. The main symptoms I had were headache and tiredness/inability to concentrate in the first couple of days. It was extreme, I just wanted to put my head in my hands and sob, or put my head on the desk and sleep. My stomach was very upset from drinking coffee, although this lessened the longer I was off it. I always drank strong black filter coffee, which is pretty acidic.

After a few days I started getting muscle aches and spasms. My back muscles got very tight and tense, like I was under terrific stress, and my leg muscles would spasm and ache. One night it was so bad I was awake all night as I didn't have any painkillers. After that I took a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen at night for about a week so I could sleep.

That said, one of the other big effects I noticed was feeling exhausted but not being able to get to sleep. Then when I did I would wake up early like you. I would be awake at 5 (sometimes earlier) and spend the next few hours trying to doze before I had to get up for work.

It is a powerful drug. I know I've said it before, but I really hope I'm done with it this time. The challenge for me is when I forget how bad the withdrawal is, get tired and think "aha ! I know what would perk me up...". I think I need to regularly visit this site to remember just how nasty addiction is and how important recovery is.

Rob

I do feel for you, going through this when you have to get up for work. It adds extra stress when you know you have to get up. I'd take painkillers, for sure, at least you know that's a fairly short term thing.
How long have you been caffeine free now? I hope things improve for you soon. I fell back down the rabbit hole again - I've explained it in my post 'Viv and everyone' - but I am determined to get it under control, again, and am back to weaning 1 a day. Good luck and let us know how you're doing, Rob. Jackie

I know about rabbit holes...

Hi Jackie. I've been off it for all of a week now ! I gave up for 2 weeks, then decided just one would be a good idea and spent a horrible week back on it again. I'm training for a half marathon and ran 12 miles - as a result I was feeling so good about myself that I decided a coffee would be a good idea. Where's the logic in that ? My head was a mess, stomach ached, I couldn't think etc. All the usual madness.

Addiction is a very powerful thing and while we can rationally express how caffeine (and other drugs) are harming us, one of the main issues with it is that part of us likes the drug and the effect it has on us. In your situation for example, when something bad happened you sought comfort in caffeine. As I've mentioned before, I'm a recovering alcoholic and have seen hundreds of people who literally destroy themselves through addiction. You'd think it was obvious what the cause of their misery is and what they need to do to end it, but at some level they still see alcohol as their friend. "If your life was this bad you'd drink too". It really is insanity and a big part of recovery is seeing the truth about the drug - it isn't an answer, it's the problem. A Trojan horse - your worst enemy masquerading as your best friend.

I hope I'm done with it now. I'm just trying to keep it simple and take it a day at a time. My job is to get my head on the pillow tonight without drinking any caffeine. I'll worry about tomorrow when it comes.

Rob

Hi Rob, thanks for your reply. Great, insightful post and your comments really struck a chord with me. When you're through this, I think you could really help people with addictions as you have such a grasp and an deep understanding of what is happening......and I can perfectly understand why you went back to it again. And you're right about the failure of rationality because I recognised the truth of 'part of us likes the drug and the effect it has on us.' So true as, for a while, it makes you feel more than OK, it makes you feel connected to yourself and to other people again; it takes you out of your zombie-like state and gives you back your humanity, hopes, dreams and motivation. That sounds like an exaggeration - but that's how it is for me as I have become so sensitive to it, I think. But, of course, it is a false, drug induced state and the follow up, later in the day, is the slump and all that brings with it. So it is not a real life and you realise that it really is 'your worst enemy masquerading as your best friend', as you said. So true. Seeing and experiencing the truth is crucial but, still this morning, I woke up craving that short lived way to feel better. I'd already put out a lower dose as I'd already decided that the only way out was to make my coffee so that I DIDN'T enjoy it or get that lift, as much. Aversion therapy, so to speak. I had half caf/half decaf and inadvertently made it with coconut milk - and it wasn't a quarter as enjoyable and, of course, less caffeine meant hardly any lift. I will carry on doing this until I really don't want the damn stuff. Again, this isn't coming out very well (brain fog), but your words really struck home - 'it isn't an answer, it's a problem'. That really needs to be my mantra and I need to spray paint it on every wall in my house! Rationality demands that we see the truth of the chemical cravings and false notions of what the drug really is about. Thanks a lot, Rob, and best of luck to you in seeing past your own Trojan horse. G

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.