Have you ever had an injury to the head? Maybe you suffered a concussion. These types of head trauma should be handled with care until you heal.
While you take care of your head injury, it’s essential to monitor your food and beverage intake. You don’t want to drink or eat something that will delay your healing or interfere with the efficacy of your medication.
Coffee is a good example. It is pretty addictive. If you are a regular coffee drinker, you may feel like taking it while you heal from your concussion.
That may feel like a sensible move if you enjoy coffee. The question is, “will it aid in your recovery, or should you take other beverages that will hasten your healing?” Let’s find out.
What is a Concussion?
If you’ve never suffered a concussion, you probably only hear it from other injured people or in television medical dramas. It doesn’t sound like a serious problem until you suffer from it.
A concussion is a mild traumatic injury that results in the disruption of brain activity. Concussions occur when you suffer an injury to the head resulting in the bruising of some brain tissues. That often results in inflammation that causes discomfort and temporary malfunctioning of brain cells.
You can get a concussion after bumping your head on something or suffering a severe jolt to the head, such as during an accident or fight. The impact to your head during such incidents can temporarily impair the functions of your neurological nerves, interfering with your brain functions.
Since a concussion is a form of mild brain trauma, its symptoms can easily go unnoticed. Most people only find out they have a concussion when they visit the emergency room to get an injury checked.
Signs of a concussion are;
- Pounding headaches
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Difficulty talking
- Blurred vision
- Sleep difficulties
- Brain fog
These symptoms can develop into serious problems if you don’t rest sufficiently after suffering head trauma.
It takes up to three months for people to recover from a concussion. During that time, you may crave your regular cup of coffee.
Considering that coffee can affect your brain’s cognitive functions, is it safe to drink it while recovering from a concussion?
Here is some helpful information concerning this issue.
Taking Coffee After a Concussion
It’s common for injured people to get depressed or dull after a head injury. So if you suffer from a concussion, don’t be surprised if you feel a little low.
Due to such complications, you may get the urge to take coffee to enhance your mood and energy. And since concussions cause brain fog, you may also feel like drinking coffee to clear your mind.
Although doctors approve the consumption of a small quantity of coffee during recovery from a concussion, it’s not the best beverage to take at that time.
Coffee’s stimulatory properties can trigger insomnia, preventing brain cells from regenerating themselves. That’s because the brain heals faster when you rest sufficiently, and coffee can interfere with your efforts to do that.
The caffeine in coffee may also accelerate the symptoms of a concussion, such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea. So, while you crave coffee during injury recovery, it’s not a good idea to take it.
Some people insist on taking coffee during recovery because of its antioxidant content.
We can’t deny that coffee contains some antioxidants that can reduce brain inflammation which will increase your recovery rate after a concussion. The only problem is recovering patients take too much of it.
Taking too much coffee can cause fatigue and insomnia. It may also give you severe headaches due to dehydration. These side effects of caffeine consumption will slow down your recovery. And it’s mainly because these effects are similar to what you get after a concussion.
Caffeine also blocks the release of neuroprotective agents such as adenosine that aid in healing. It further impedes the healing process by constricting blood vessels which restricts blood flow to the brain.
And without optimal blood flow in the brain, the supply of nutrients and oxygen needed to boost the repair of damaged brain cells will reduce.
These problems caused by caffeine consumption will lower your recovery rate after a concussion. That’s why doctors discourage patients from taking coffee after a brain injury.
If you must take coffee, the maximum amount you can take a day without delaying your recovery or triggering other complications is two cups a day. Nutritionists also advise that convalescing patients only take coffee on a full stomach.
You should also spread out your coffee consumption to give your body enough time to metabolize the caffeine you take. That means taking a cup every 6 hours.
It’s also essential to avoid drinking coffee after taking pain medication such as Tylenol for your concussion. That’s because most pain medication contains caffeine.
If you insist on taking coffee, choose pain medication that contains no caffeine to deal with any pain caused by your injury.
How to lower Coffee Consumption When Recovering from a Concussion?
Now that you know drinking coffee can reduce your recovery rate after a concussion, how do you deal with the urge to take lots of coffee?
A good solution is decaf coffee. It contains about 7 mg of caffeine which is much lower than the 70 -90 mg of caffeine in regular coffee.
Decaf also contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and minerals like potassium that will aid in your injury recovery. So, taking decaf coffee is a better idea than drinking regular coffee as you recover from a concussion.
Remember that caffeine is found in other substances besides coffee, such as chocolate, energy drinks, and protein shakes. You may consume these foods to accelerate your recovery only to impede it.
For example, some people take energy drinks and bars to overcome the grogginess associated with concussions, only to worsen it.
A better solution is taking lots of protein and low-sugar fruits and vegetables such as fatty fish, nuts, and broccoli. These foods will increase your concentration and heal your brain because they can balance blood sugar and regenerate damaged tissues.
You may also consider intermittent fasting to boost your brain recovery. That means eating for a set number of hours in a day, preferably after every 16 hours. Health experts say it boosts brain functions by increasing the supply of ketones to the brain and reducing the glucose levels in the body.
Now you know the answer to “can you drink coffee when you have a concussion?” Although you can take coffee in moderation, too much of it will hinder your recovery. So always stick to two cups of coffee a day.
The brain controls all the major functions of your body. If you ever suffer a brain injury focusing on habits that will hasten its recovery will increase your recovery.
If you choose to live dangerously by taking substances like coffee that can slow down your recovery, you risk worsening your brain injury or impairing its functions for good.
So avoid coffee when you have a concussion. If the urge to take coffee becomes overwhelming, manage it by taking as little coffee as possible or using the other solutions we’ve given you to avoid it.
If you take care of yourself and follow the doctor’s instructions, you should recover from a mild concussion after a few weeks.