Skip to main content
Coffee & Health

Does Coffee Make Cold Sores Worse?

You probably rely on a cup of coffee in the morning to wake you up. Others would depend on some caffeine to stimulate their day in the afternoon. Caffeine is a widely accepted stimulant that is appreciated globally.

Caffeine gets absorbed into your body and eventually affects your nervous system. This leaves your body with various reactions.

This article is meant to answer if coffee makes cold sores worse. You will understand what causes cold sores. How caffeine affects your immunity and ways to boost it.

Read on to learn more.

Does Coffee Make Cold Sores Worse?

Cold sores fluid-filled blisters that often appear around the mouth. In a few cases, they may find their habitat on your fingers, nose, or inside the mouth.

They are caused by a virus called herpes which is infectious. It can be transmitted through physical contact like kissing. Many people are often asking themselves whether coffee makes cold sores worse.


Causes of Cold sores

Cold sores are caused by a contagious virus called herpes simplex. The World Health Organisation states that there are two kinds of this virus. The herps simplex type 1 abbreviates HSV-1. Herpes simplex type 2 is denoted as HSV-2.  The HSV-1 is the main cause of cold sores while the HSV-2 causes genital herpes.

The nature and character of sores for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are similar. 90% of the world population has one form of the herpes simplex virus. 67% of the population under 50 years of age have the HSV-1 virus.

Cold sores are triggered by various things including certain types of food. Other triggers include stress, fatigue, colds, sunburn, menstruation, or fever.


Coffee and the HSV-1

The simplex virus type 1 is an infectious virus. It is commonly acquired during childhood. It has no known cure and is often reactivated by different triggers. The frequency of recurrence is varied from person to person.

Most people who are infected by the HSV-1 are usually asymptomatic. If you are infected, you will often feel a tingling sensation around the mouth. This happens before the cold sore appears.


The Cold Sore process

There are 5 stages that lead to the outburst of a cold sore:

  1. You will feel some itchiness around the mouth.
  2. Full ripe and fluid-filled blisters will appear.
  3. The fluids in the blisters burst out leading to painful sores.
  4. The scab appears and you will feel itchy,
  5. The cold sores heal and the scab falls off.

Coffee is a beverage that consists of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that excites the body. When consumed moderately, caffeine contains loads of health benefits. Caffeine gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Due to its nature, it intercepts the adenosine.

Adenosines are neurotransmitters that induce drowsiness. Often when the brain uses a lot of energy, it generates adenosines. This results in you feeling tired and sleepy.

Apart from coffee, there are ways to consume coffee via chocolate, energy drinks, tea, etc.

This research showed how caffeine limits replication of the HSV-1. It blocks its formation but does not render the virus inactive. Caffeine just blocks the formation of the virus, inhibiting its spread. However, consumers need to have at least 1mg/ml in their bodies.


What makes coffee bad for cold sores

Stress and immunity

Coffee can increase your stress levels. A study showed the relation between coffee consumption and psychological disorders.  Excessive coffee consumers exhibited signs of psychological disorder.

This condition is known as caffeinism.  Some of the symptoms resulting from Caffeinism include:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Being restless
  • Lack of sleep
  • Increased heart rate
  • Gastrointestinal problems

This caffeine-induced anxiety has been proven to lead to psychiatric disorders.

Scientists have established that there are benefits to caffeine. However, we cannot ignore the impact that coffee has on our mental health. The anxiogenic effects of caffeine induce anxiety symptoms. It also affects people with panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.

A 2005 study noted excessive caffeine consumption leads to conditions like a  psychiatric. This includes sleep and anxiety disorders, increasing hostility, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.

This anxiety can lead to chronic stress. This can cause interruption with the hormones and eventually affect the immune system. This puts your body at risk in trying to fight the HSV-1 virus.


Dehydration and cold sores

Drinking coffee causes an increase in the heart rate. This results in a high volume of blood in the renal system. The effect is more discharge and as a result, caffeine causes frequent urination.

Caffeine affects the kidney in the resorption of water and sodium. This prevention of the kidney leads to dehydration.

Drinking too much coffee without consuming water will lead to dehydration. When your body is dehydrated it often leads to cracked lips. This puts you at risk of activating the simplex herpes virus.

Excessive consumption of coffee beyond the recommended levels will harm your health.


Sleep and immunity

Medical studies identified the impact of caffeine on sleep. Caffeine inhibits the adenosine receptors affecting the neurons. Ultimately, caffeine limits the adenosines from performing their function. This affects the brain’s functioning normally. Some of the consequences from this dysfunction include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor cognition
  • Affects memory and learning

Sleep is an important component for healing the body. Ignoring your levels of fatigue will lead to the activation of cold sores. Sleeping helps in building a strong immune system. But drinking coffee deters you from sleep.

A weakened immune system allows the herpes virus to be reactivated and lead to cold sores. Understanding this answers the concerns on how coffee makes cold sores worse.


Caffeine and adrenal fatigue

Consuming coffee excites the adrenal glands. These glands are located above the kidney. The glands help in regulating the body whilst helping manage body stress.

Adrenal fatigue happens when the glands become tired and it reduces their performance. Consuming high sugar levels, coffee and smoking can trigger adrenal fatigue.

The glands are then forced to produce more adrenaline. This drains their ability to perform optimally. This leads to unhealthy symptoms which include:

  • High levels of fatigue
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low libido
  • Low tolerance of stress

Healthy coffee limits

Most people fail to watch the amount of coffee they consume in a day. When you are trying to become more active or manage your stress, you end up consuming more coffee.

The healthy caffeine required in a day is 400mg. This means drinking 4-6 cups of coffee. Caffeine consumed in powder form is higher than what you get as a beverage.  Excessive caffeine levels can lead to major health problems.

Children and teenagers need to be cautioned about their caffeine consumption. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine consumption to 300 mg per day. That equates to 2-3 cups of coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee and cold sores

As a coffee consumer, you may want to reduce your coffee intake. Depending on the caffeine tolerance, there are varied side effects. Men have an easier path when trying to detox than women.

Decaffeinated coffee is meant to give you the effects of caffeine you desire. If you are looking for the flavor of coffee without the caffeine effects, then this can work.

However, decaffeinated coffee is not purely safe. The process of decaf removes caffeine up to 97%. This may still hamper your desire to treat cold sores. Eventually, you will affect your immunity and lead to the reactivation of the virus.


Effects of Caffeine Withdrawal

Wondering what would happen if you decide to stop taking coffee. Depending on your level of caffeine tolerance, the withdrawal will have varied effects. But, there are common symptoms that you will encounter. Some this include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings

Coffee usually hits well after detoxing. You will feel more energized and fueled up after your next cup of coffee. The adrenal will also recover and this lowers your stress levels.

It is paramount to maintain moderate and healthy coffee consumption. This helps you maintain your caffeine tolerance. You can always take a periodic coffee break after 3-4 months.

After Effects of Caffeine

Consuming the right amount of coffee is healthy for you. There are several health benefits associated with drinking coffee. When coffee is not making cold sores worse, there are other effects as shown:

  • Stomach sensation
  • Nausea feeling
  • Insomnia
  • Chest pains

Pregnant women who consume high caffeine levels risk getting a miscarriage. There is also the risk of getting underweight births. Other results include stillbirth, growth restriction, or preterm birth. The caffeine gets absorbed in the body and usually takes longer to clear.


Dealing with cold sores

The major reason why coffee makes cold sores worse is because of immunity. Lowered immunity will lead to the reactivation of the herpes simplex virus. The virus causing the cold sores can not be healed.

Various people experience an outbreak of the virus when their immune system is low. It can be managed by boosting your immunity. There are certain foods that may help in improving your immune system.

If you are looking for ways to treat cold sores, there are natural remedies that could help. Certain dietary foods contain substances that can treat the virus and prevent recurrences. This include:

  • Lysine
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin E
  • Lemon balm
  • Antioxidants

There are alternatives that are as effective when treating your cold sores.


Understanding the Herpes Simplex Virus

Cold sores are caused by a virus called Herpes simplex. There are two types of this virus and they are usually infectious. It can never be treated but can only be managed.

Coffee mainly causes decreased immunity which leads to the activation of cold sores. Coffee is healthy but when consumption exceeds a certain limit the results are not good.

The best way to avoid the herpes simplex virus is to take the right measures. Getting enough sleep, avoiding common triggers, eliminating sugar and caffeine.

This article should answer your concerns on whether coffee makes cold sores worse.


Related Articles

Does Coffee Cause Canker Sores?