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Coffee & Health

Coffee When Sick

When sick, you’ll naturally want to consume comforting drinks and foods. For most individuals, they prefer taking coffee when sick.

For healthy individuals, drinking coffee comes with several health benefits when consumed moderately. Research shows that coffee is rich in essential antioxidants. Also, caffeine in coffee offers a quick energy boost and assists in burning fat.

However, coffee also has some negative effects, especially when taking it excessively or for individuals who are sensitive to caffeine.

man drinking coffee when sick.

While moderate coffee consumption offers numerous health benefits, should you drink coffee when sick?

Well, the right answer to this question depends on various factors. Generally, the kind of illness affecting you determines whether drinking coffee when sick is okay or bad.

Also, coffee can interact with certain medications. In this article, you’ll learn whether it’s okay to drink coffee while sick.


Benefits of Coffee When You Are Sick

For some people, consuming coffee while sick can offer several benefits including:


  1. Coffee can boost your energy levels when sick

Taking a cup of hot coffee in the morning assists most people to wake up. In fact, most coffee lovers drink coffee to enjoy a quick boost in their energy levels. Most people often feel weak when sick.

Thus, taking coffee when nursing an illness can boost your energy levels. If you’re sick and feeling fatigued or sluggish to get out of bed or do any physical activity, consider taking coffee to boost your energy levels and mood.

The stimulating effect of the caffeine compound in coffee will brighten you up and make you feel re-energized.


  1. Coffee fights malaise

One study assessed whether coffee helps a cold by reducing the malaise that often comes with colds. In the study involving participants with colds, some were given fruit juice, others were given caffeinated coffee, while others were given decaf coffee.

Those who took caffeinated coffee and decaf coffee showed reduced malaise. Those who took fruit juice didn’t show a significant reduction in malaise.

Thus, the study shows that coffee can assist in offsetting the sluggish feeling that comes with sickness and can boost your spirits and mood.


  1. Coffee contains disease-fighting compounds

Coffee can make you feel better when sick, thanks to its potent disease-fighting antioxidants. These antioxidants are known as polyphenol antioxidants. They work as anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial compounds. These effects are helpful in faster healing.


Potential Side Effects of Drinking Coffee While Sick

Coffee can have some side effects if you drink it when sick. Potential side effects of drinking coffee include:


  1. Can cause dehydration

Caffeine is known to be a diuretic compound. As a result, it draws out fluid from the body, thereby causing more fluid excretion through stool or urine. That’s why you feel the urge to visit the washroom more than usual after taking coffee.

If you happen to urinate excessively or diarrhea after drinking coffee, you may get dehydrated. Getting dehydrated while sick will only worsen your sickness.

Some studies show that drinking coffee moderately, about 2 to 3 cups per day, may not have a significant effect on an individual’s fluid balance.

If you drink coffee regularly, you may get used to caffeine such that you won’t experience its diuretic effects. Thus, a regular coffee drinker can drink coffee without the risk of getting dehydrated when sick.

However, if you’re suffering from food poisoning, flu, or severe cold, it’s advised to avoid drinking coffee. Instead, drink hydrating fluids such as water and fruit juices. Also, if you don’t consume coffee regularly, avoid drinking it when sick as you may get dehydrated.


  1. Can worsen stomach ulcers

Research shows that coffee has acidic properties. Thus, it may lead to stomach irritation, or worsen acid-related issues, especially in individuals suffering from stomach ulcers.

For instance, a study investigating the impact of drinking coffee among individuals suffering from stomach ulcers found that drinking coffee worsens abdominal pain.

Another research study found no link between drinking coffee and acid-related stomach issues such as acid reflux and intestinal ulcers.

Findings from these studies indicate that some people experiencing stomach ulcers may not tolerate coffee while others aren’t affected by coffee intake. Thus, the effect of coffee on stomach ulcers depends on the individual. In case coffee worsens your acid reflux or stomach ulcers, avoid it in totality.


  1. Affects sleep

You should be cautious about drinking coffee when sick, especially before sleeping. Even when not sick, it’s advised to avoid drinking coffee 6 hours before retiring to bed.

Research shows that coffee can interfere with sleep. Sleep is very crucial for anyone recovering from a sickness. Scientific research findings indicate that the immune system functions best when getting sufficient sleep.

Since drinking coffee shortly before sleeping can interfere with your sleep, your immune system will fail to function optimally. Thus, you’ll experience a slow recovery process. Thus, coffee is not the best drink to take when sick.


  1. It interacts with certain medications

Coffee can interact with certain medications. For instance, caffeine is known to enhance the effects that come with stimulant drugs such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), which is typically used to alleviate flu and cold symptoms. Thus, it’s bad to drink coffee when taking some flu or cold medications.

Also, coffee interacts with antibiotics. In case you’re taking antibiotics to fight any bacterial infection, drinking coffee will affect the effectiveness of the drugs. Thus, consider dropping coffee when taking antibiotics.

While some regular coffee drinkers might tolerate these drugs while taking coffee, it’s advisable to talk to your doctor before drinking coffee with such drugs.

Alternatively, you can switch to decaf coffee when taking these drugs. Decaf coffee has minimal caffeine content. Caffeine has been shown to cause these interactions. Thus, decaf coffee is unlikely to interact with these drugs.


Is Coffee Bad When You Have a Cold?

It’s okay to drink coffee when having a mild cold. However, avoid coffee when dealing with a severe cold. Also, as noted earlier, coffee can interact with some cold medications. Thus, avoid drinking coffee when taking cold medications.


Is It Okay To Drink Coffee When Sick With Flu?

You should avoid drinking coffee when sick with flu. Coffee has diuretic properties that cause dehydration. If you’re having a flu, you should be well hydrated to help the body fight the illness.

Thus, drinking coffee when having a flu will cause dehydration and worsen the flu. Instead, drink more hydrating drinks such as diluted fruit juices and water.


Does Coffee Help With Congestion?

If you’re sensitive or allergic to coffee, drinking it when having nasal congestion may worsen the situation. An allergic reaction to coffee can narrow your sinus passage.

Mild symptoms may include sneezing and a stuffy nose. Severe reactions to coffee may cause narrowing of the airways, thereby worsening your congestion.

Although the steam coming from hot coffee can relieve the inflammation that comes with congestion and sinusitis, it can eventually worsen the situation if you’re allergic to coffee.


Final Thoughts

Although drinking coffee moderately is harmless for most healthy adults, it’s advisable to avoid it when sick. While it’s safe to drink coffee when having a mild illness or cold, drinking it while having a severe illness can lead to diarrhea or vomiting, which will result in dehydration.

Limit your coffee intake if it’s irritating or causing stomach ulcers, acid reflux, or heartburn among other acid-related issues. Additionally, avoid coffee if you’re taking medications that can interact with coffee such as antibiotics or pseudoephedrine.

Always consult your doctor when having any concerns regarding drinking coffee when sick.


Also read Why Does Coffee Make Me Sick?