Can Coffee Make You Nauseous? Here’s What To Do

If you’ve ever started sipping on your cup of coffee only to have your stomach do somersaults, you’re not alone. 

Coffee is highly acidic and contains caffeine, both of which can leave your stomach doing somersaults after sipping on your morning cup of Joe. 

So, can coffee make you nauseous? 

Yes. 

Can it be avoided? 

Absolutely.

Let’s take a look at the science behind why coffee’s caffeine and acidity make you nauseous as well as a few ways to avoid it. 

Coffee Complaints: Why Does Coffee Make You Nauseous?

Okay, so we’re aware that coffee can make you nauseous. 

But what’s actually causing that?

As it happens, there are a few culprits at work here. 

Acidity, diuretic effects, acid reflux, and even medications can all make your stomach upset when you drink coffee. 

Let’s take a closer look at these causes.  

Acidity

The number one reason people experience nausea after drinking a cup of coffee is because of the acidity in the coffee. 

Coffee has a pH ranging from 4.5 to 5.5 (depending on the coffee brewing method, roast, and type of coffee).

That low acidity can cause a bit of an upset on the stomach, making you feel nauseous after you gulp down your coffee. 

On top of all this acidity stuff, you’ve also got to remember that caffeine is a stimulant. 

As a stimulant, it causes your stomach to work faster than usual. That produces more stomach acid and can even allow a bit of stomach acid to leak out of your gut. 

All that can combine into some pretty uncomfortable circumstances, such as nausea and heartburn. 

Hormones

If you notice yourself running to the restroom after you drink a cup of coffee, there’s a good reason for that. 

The caffeine in coffee prevents the body from producing ADH hormones. Without enough ADH hormones in the body, your kidney stops absorbing water. 

The result? 

You end up running to the bathroom shortly after downing your morning pick-me-up.

Plus, you may also experience nausea or diarrhea. 

Acid Reflux

Another reason some coffee drinkers struggle with nausea is due to acid reflux. 

Whereas someone who doesn’t struggle with these issues may be fine, people with acid reflux have more sensitive tummies. 

Since coffee contains acid, it can exacerbate heartburn and nausea in those who already struggle with acid reflux. 

When those with acid reflux drink coffee, they may find that they don’t feel so good.

Pro Tip: if you have acid reflux, you can still have coffee! Look at the caffeine content in your coffee and choose brew methods that are lower in caffeine. You can also opt for decaf coffee to solve your woes.

Medications

Some medications can interact with the caffeine in coffee, and not in a good way. 

The most common drugs that have coffee interactions include: 

  • Ciprofloxin and other antibiotics
  • MAOIs and certain antidepressants
  • Albuterol and asthma medications

If you’re taking one of these medicines on a regular basis, it could be interacting with your coffee. 

And, even if you’re on another medicine I didn’t list, it still could be to blame. 

Check the labels on your medicine before consuming it with coffee. That way, you can avoid any unpleasant side effects such as nausea.

Beating the Brew Biliousness

If you’re one of the many people who struggle with nausea from drinking coffee from time to time, don’t panic!

There are a few ways that you can avoid feeling nauseous when you drink coffee. 

Let’s take a look at a few methods for beating nausea from your morning caffeine kick!

Drink More Water

If you’re like me, you might swap your water for coffee. However, I’ve learned the hard way that this is a big mistake. 

When you drink coffee without keeping your body hydrated enough, you can do some serious damage to your stomach.

Why? 

Well, remember how I mentioned that coffee is acidic? When you don’t have enough water in your system to dilute the coffee, all that acidity can wreak havoc on your stomach. 

On top of that, since coffee is a mild diuretic, you need to balance your fluid intake with your coffee consumption. 

Otherwise, you empty the water out of your system and let the acids do their dirty work and cause nausea.

Get to Know Your Body

Now, just because I struggle with drinking coffee on a totally empty stomach doesn’t mean everybody does.

You might find that your coffee issues come about because of the milk and creamer that you put in your beverage. 

Or, it might be that some brews do more damage than others. 

Pay attention to when you feel nauseous and make adjustments from there. 

If you find that the problem is the brew, you might want to try switching to a darker roast. These contain less caffeine and acidity, making them slightly easier on sensitive stomachs.

But First, Food

coffee with breakfast

There must be a mistake. Shouldn’t that be but first, coffee? 

As a matter of fact, while it sounds great for memes and Facebook brag posts, drinking coffee for breakfast can be disastrous. 

All that acid in your morning brew can be pretty upsetting on a stomach with nothing in it. 

And, considering most of us don’t wake up full, I’m betting that the acidity is rubbing your stomach the wrong way. 

Are you dealing with nausea every time you make your morning mug of coffee? 

It’s probably got something to do with skipping breakfast (guilty as charged).

My advice? 

Eat something small. 

Even just having a little bit of food in your stomach can help you digest the coffee at a slower rate. That will make the effects of the acid less harsh and leave your stomach feeling a whole lot better. 

Fast Fact: Did you know you can eat coffee beans? In fact, that’s how coffee was discovered in Ethiopia all those centuries ago. You can learn more about it in our article here.

Skip the Sweet N’ Low

If you’re a big fan of artificial sugars, this could be what’s causing your stomach to be upset, not your coffee. 

Zero-calorie sweeteners stir up your gut bacteria and can make you feel sick and nauseous. 

When you leave the artificial sugar substitutes out of your coffee, you can end up feeling a whole lot better!

Can’t go without a sweetener in your coffee? Check out these healthy sugar alternatives for your coffee!

Forgo the Fake Creamers

Many of us enjoy drinking our coffee with cream. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, the keyword here is cream.

Instead of using natural cream, many people use artificial creamers that damage your gut

These creamers usually contain harmful ingredients such as: 

  • Thickeners
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • High fructose corn syrup

Those nasty ingredients can leave you feeling nauseous. As such, it’s better to leave them out of your coffee entirely. 

If you can’t go without cream in your coffee, you can still have your coffee and drink it, too! 

Instead of using fake creamers, use natural milk in your coffee. The calcium in milk will help offset the acidity of your coffee and make it easier on your stomach. 

Avoid Coffee Nausea: Know Your Body, Know Your Brew

Although it’s true that coffee can cause nausea, that’s not to say that it will cause nausea. 

With these tips for managing nausea, you can put this issue to rest once and for all.

One of the ways to manage feeling nausea when you drink coffee is to get your roast right. 

Check out this guide to coffee roasts so you can figure out what coffee will suit a sensitive tummy.

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Jessica Ruth Lee Fleming
Jessica is a seasoned caffeine-addict who spent 3 years behind the bar. Her early coffee days took her from the commercial Starbucks scene in urban DC all the way to helping launch a craft coffee shop in California. Today she prefers sharing her years of coffee capers through media, although you’ll find she does it with a trusty cup of coffee by her side.