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The kick of a strong cup of coffee doesn’t go down equally as well with everyone. Some of us can’t drink certain types of coffee without instantly feeling dizzy. If you’re one of the many people who feel dizzy after drinking a cup of coffee, read on – we’re going to explain why dizziness happens, how to stop the shakiness, and which types of coffee to drink to lower the chances of feeling strange.
Why do I feel weird when I drink coffee?
Each of us metabolizes caffeine and coffee’s other compounds at a different rate. This means that the effects are felt differently as well. Consuming caffeine makes your heart beat faster and blood pressure rises, speeding up the body as its stimulant effect. If you feel dizzy after drinking coffee, then you could be hypersensitive to caffeine.
Caffeine sensitive individuals exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Racing, abnormally fast heartbeat
- Irregular heartbeat with palpitations
- Diarrhea or increased need to urinate
- General restlessness
- Restless leg syndrome
- Jitters and muscle spasms
- Overwhelming anxiety
- Unsettled uneasiness
- Spiking body temperature/hot flashes
- Quick-onset headache or migraine
What is caffeine sensitivity?
We are all sensitive to caffeine at varying degrees. Oversensitivity refers to the point at which you start feeling the adverse effects of coffee, most of which are listed above. Caffeine binds to neuroreceptors that normally attach to a neuromodulator called adenosine. Under normal conditions, adenosine (a central nervous system depressant) is responsible for drowsiness and inhibiting feelings of arousal.
How caffeine affects the nervous system and brain
As soon as caffeine metabolizes and reaches our brain it takes preference and adenosine no longer has available receptors to bind to. Wakefulness follows, as well as increased alertness and an elevated mood. However, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, then you feel the effects and latent side-effects much stronger. A few sips of regular instant coffee can bring on a queasy rush, similar to drinking too many shots of espresso.
How long coffee lasts in the body
Caffeine sticks around for a long time after you’ve had that cup of coffee. Caffeine’s half-life of around five hours means that half the quantity is still left in your body after around five hours have passed. A regular coffee drinker with a normal metabolism rate is still feeling the effects of their 4 PM cup of coffee at 10 PM. If you’re over-sensitive, you’ll have caffeine present in your system for longer, making you more likely to feel dizzy immediately after drinking that second cup.
Our metabolism as an individual sets the rate at which caffeine is metabolized. Everyone feels the effects of coffee differently, and caffeine remains in each person’s body for a different period. People with low caffeine tolerance or extreme sensitivity to coffee metabolize caffeine extremely slowly. More side effects and more prominent wakefulness are felt due to the caffeine remaining in the body for longer. Genetics plays a major role in caffeine sensitivity, with hypersensitive, normal sensitivity, and low tolerance emerging among all people.
Causes Of Caffeine Sensitivity
There are several factors responsible for heightened caffeine sensitivity. Women metabolize caffeine faster than men, making men more likely to feel dizzy when drinking coffee. Age also plays a role, with our bodies becoming more sensitive to caffeine as we take longer to metabolize it at an advanced age. Birth control medications and treatments interfering with estrogen production can also increase caffeine sensitivity. Certain herbal supplements like Echinacea and Guarana are also known to increase the effects of caffeine. Not drinking coffee at all increases the risk of not forming any tolerance, leading to extreme sensitivity as well.
An extreme adverse reaction to drinking the slightest amount of coffee may be a caffeine allergy rather than caffeine hypersensitivity. If your body is misidentifying caffeine and sending out antibodies, you’ll experience a combination of these symptoms:
- Latent anxiety with coldness and jitters
- General chest pain
- Cold sweats and flushing
- Loss of balance and unexplained dizziness
- Ongoing unexplainable fatigue
- Headaches and migraines
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Mysterious joint and muscle pain
- Diarrhea and an increased need to urinate
If there is a chance that you may be allergic to caffeine, we recommend that you consult a doctor to verify your suspicions. Caffeine must be avoided completely if you’re allergic.
How do I stop feeling dizzy after drinking coffee?
For many people, the key to not feeling dizzy when drinking coffee is to drink coffee with your breakfast, not for breakfast. Kicking off your metabolism properly by giving it something substantial to metabolize other than the coffee and its caffeine alone is often enough to stop the dizziness. However, let’s take a closer look at all of the best ways to prevent dizziness and the undesirable side effects of the world’s favorite pick-me-up.
1. Reduce coffee intake
If cutting coffee out of your diet is not an option, lowering your coffee intake is the next necessary step. First, try a different roast with less caffeine, but try to bring down your consumption as far as possible. Once you find the point at which you begin to show symptoms like dizziness, you know that you’re overconsuming caffeine. Adjust the number of cups, and try to drink coffee with or after meals.
2. Drink a darker roast
While this solution may at first seem counterintuitive, drinking a darker roast of coffee means less chance of dizziness, nausea, or any other negative side effects. The longer beans roast, the less caffeine is present. As beans roast and gain a glossiness, this indicates the oils and caffeine have moved toward the skin, which means a lower concentration of caffeine overall. (Check out our 7 best dark roast coffees here.)
3. Drink more water
Drink more water and try sipping on a glass of water while drinking your coffee to balance out the rate at which caffeine metabolizes. It should even out your buzz instead of causing uncomfortable side-effects. Staying hydrated is crucial, preventing the caffeine from building up and causing undesired effects.
4. Eliminate coffee
Eliminating coffee is the top professional recommendation for anyone sensitive to caffeine. The extreme sensitivity is an indicator that the consumption of coffee is stressing your metabolism. If you decide to say goodbye to coffee, we advise that you wean yourself off instead of quitting cold-turkey. Caffeine withdrawal causes some rather nasty side effects, including mood swings, low energy levels for the first while, and bouts of headaches.
5. Get more vitamin D
Caffeine reduces the rate of vitamin D absorption, often leading to Vitamin D deficiency. Whether you’re sensitive or not, supplementing with vitamin D is good for your health and will even out any metabolic imbalances from coffee or other substances. It takes 5 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight a day to fulfill your daily recommended intake.
6. Participate in regular exercise
Regular exercise trains a healthy metabolism, which will help your body process caffeine evenly. Poor metabolizers of caffeine will suffer the negative side-effects more. All you need is 150 minutes of aerobic exercise like walking or running per week to boost your metabolism.
The risks of drinking coffee with an arrhythmia or hypertension
Coffee may not be safe for you to drink if you suffer from cardiovascular issues or hypertension. It is best to consult your doctor if you find yourself feeling dizzy and suffer from these conditions or have any complication that causes an abnormal heart rhythm. If a little caffeine gives you heart palpitations or makes you feel tired, it is dangerously easy to reach a caffeine overdose. Overdosing can cause convulsions and even be life-threatening.
Frequently Asked Questions About Coffee's Side-Effects
One has to remember that coffee is a stimulant and not everyone is suited to the chain reaction of cardiovascular events that follows drinking a strong cup of joe. A sugar rush can also cause lightheadedness, while plummeting electrolytes makes the problem worse for some shaky coffee drinkers.
Coffee makes me feel weak and shaky, why?
Some people find that instead of giving an initial buzz followed by negative side-effects, they have a sudden onset of tiredness. Lethargy sets in, making certain coffee drinkers feel as if they need to sleep but are far too awake to do so. Coldness is common, with cold and awake creating an annoying condition. The jitters typically persist through all of this, leaving you feeling shaky with a worsening weak feeling. If this describes you, you likely have a caffeine allergy or extreme caffeine sensitivity.
Why does coffee makes me cold?
When we drink hot drinks like coffee, it increases our core temperature. The body responds by sending perspiration and redirecting blood flow to cool itself down. As sweat evaporates, rapid cooling gives a lasting cold sensation rather than the fleeting feeling of cooling down when you drink a cold drink. Cold beverages cool momentarily, but warm drinks like hot coffee create a prolonged cooling effect. The cold felt after drinking coffee shouldn’t be confused with the shivers that come with jitters and latent anxiety.
Starbucks coffee makes me dizzy, why?
If you only feel dizzy after drinking coffee from Starbucks or another coffeehouse and roastery, then you’re probably not used to drinking freshly ground. There’s simply too much caffeine for you. Instant coffee contains far less caffeine than your average freshly brewed roast. Try something milky like the Starbucks Iced coffee with milk or a Caffe Misto. Otherwise, go for Chai Tea, the Pink Drink, or any one of the many shaken iced tea infusions.
Can decaf coffee make you dizzy?
Decaf can’t make you dizzy, but if you’ve got issues metabolizing caffeine, then it’s best to avoid decaf as well. Depending on the decaf, either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate is used to process the beans and remove the caffeine. You don’t want either of these chemicals and their bi-products stressing your gut, central nervous system, and metabolism even more.
Does coffee trigger vertigo?
Caffeine can cause the rapid onset of vertigo and exacerbate symptoms, but not in all patients. High-caffeine roasts are a leading culprit of spinning sensations, with most coffees inducing a mild ringing in the ears for those who suffer from this unfortunate condition. Vertigo occurs as the body struggles to regulate blood pressure and blood flow under the effects of caffeine. Caffeine-induced vertigo can be triggered by coffee but is more likely to be caused by caffeine-rich teas, colas, and energy drinks.
Keep Adjusting To Find The Perfect Balance
Those who drink coffee regularly have already built up a tolerance that makes negative side-effects unlikely unless you really overdo things. The best way to avoid dizziness is to make sure that you’ve eaten before drinking your first cup of coffee and try to limit your consumption from there. Try different roasts to see what works best for you. There are lots of coffee alternatives to try once you’re used to drinking less coffee through the course of a day.