Coffee makes you feel more energetic
Coffee contains caffeine that helps wake many people up in the morning. Even decaf (decaffeinated coffee) can have a mild stimulant effect for many people due to the placebo effect.
For many coffee drinkers, energy is one of the main benefits of coffee and one reason you might choose to drink coffee when you’re sick.
For example, coffee can help you stay awake if you feel sluggish or tired. Also, if you have a mild cold, coffee can get you through the day without causing any significant side effects.
Coffee can cause dehydration and diarrhea
Coffee can also cause some adverse effects. The caffeine in coffee is a diuretic, which can draw fluid out of your body and cause you to excrete more in your urine or stools.
Drinking coffee can lead to dehydration from diarrhea or increased urination in some people. However, some researchers note that moderate amounts of caffeine, such as 2 cups of coffee per day, have no meaningful effect on fluid balance.
Regular coffee drinkers are more likely to get used to the diuretic effect of coffee to the point where it doesn’t cause them any problems with fluid balance.
Can you drink coffee if you are sick? When you’re unhappy with symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea – or if you have the flu, a severe cold, or food poisoning, you should avoid coffee and opt for extra fluids and electrolytes.
Some examples of drinks that are more hydrating include water, sports drinks, or diluted fruit juices.
However, if you’re a regular coffee drinker, you can continue to drink coffee without increasing your risk of dehydration when you’re sick.
3. Coffee can cause stomach ulcers
Coffee is acidic so it can irritate the stomach in some people, such as those with active stomach ulcers or acid-related digestive problems.
According to a study of 302 people with stomach ulcers, more than 80% of cases reported an increase in abdominal pain and other symptoms after drinking coffee.
However, another study of 8,000 people found no relationship between coffee intake and stomach ulcers or other gastrointestinal problems like intestinal ulcers or acid reflux.
The link between coffee and stomach ulcers doesn’t seem to be consistent. If you find that coffee causes or aggravates your stomach ulcers, you should avoid it or switch to a cold brew, less acidic coffee.
4. Coffee interacts with some drugs
Coffee also interacts with some medications, so you should avoid coffee if you take one. In particular, caffeine can enhance the effects of stimulant drugs such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), which is commonly used to help ease cold and flu symptoms. It can also interact with antibiotics you may receive if you have a bacterial infection.
Again, regular coffee drinkers can tolerate these drugs while drinking coffee, as their bodies get used to its effects.
However, it would help to speak to a healthcare professional before drinking coffee with these medications. Another option is to drink decaf coffee while taking these medications, as the caffeine in coffee is what causes these interactions. While decaf coffee does not contain caffeine, it is unlikely to cause drug interactions.
5. Bottom line
Although moderate coffee consumption is usually harmless in healthy adults, drinking coffee when sick can cause specific harm. Drinking coffee is fine if you have a cold or a mild illness, but more severe diseases accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration.
However, if you are a regular coffee drinker, you can continue to drink coffee during more severe illnesses with no side effects. You can also limit coffee if you notice that it causes stomach ulcers.
Finally, you should also avoid coffee – or caffeinated coffee when taking any medications that can interact with caffeine, such as pseudoephedrine or antibiotics. It is best to consult your doctor if you have any concerns about drinking coffee while sick.
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