Can coffee cause nausea? (3 Reasons)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can coffee cause nausea?  and discuss the reasons that could cause you to have nausea after drinking coffee and the safe limits of coffee intake for different individuals.

Can coffee cause nausea?

Yes, coffee can cause nausea as a side effect. The ingestion of coffee in large quantities can cause adverse reactions, such as nausea, headache, anxiety, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal discomfort (1). 

On the other hand, the withdrawal of coffee consumption in habitual coffee drinkers can also cause nausea. Caffeine can cause dependence and many adverse symptoms are related to the caffeine withdrawal, including nausea (1,3).  

As more severe side effects following the consumption of higher doses of coffee or caffeine containing beverages or foods, are hormone alterations in both men and women and dehydration (1,2). 

Why does coffee cause nausea?

Coffee can cause nausea due to different possible reasons, including the sensitivity to caffeine. Individuals have different tolerance levels of caffeine and therefore may experience side effects differently. Some individuals tolerate higher amounts of coffee without side effects. 

Caffeine tolerance depends on factors such as genetic, physical and behavioral conditions, as well as age.

A study showed that, by heavy coffee drinkers, nausea was not reported as a side effect of drinking coffee, while nausea was reported as a negative consequence of coffee ingestion by individuals not habituated in the beverage (1).

Some reasons for coffee to cause nausea are (1,3): 

Increased acidity

Caffeine ingestion stimulates the production of acids and increases the acidity in the stomach. This can cause nausea in sensitive individuals. 

Psychological effect

The effect of caffeine in the central nervous system leading to the production of neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, which are related to mood and anxiety (1).

The change in the mental conditions due to the caffeine intake lead to an altered psychological status. It is believed that physiological conditions can alter the gastric motion and cause nausea (3).


Nausea as a side effect of caffeine ingestion is more pronounced during pregnancy. In this way, even by small amounts of coffee, pregnants can experience nausea (1).

How to reduce the risk of having nausea from drinking coffee?

To reduce the risks of having nausea from drinking coffee, you can (1,2,4):

  • Do not drink coffee on an empty stomach, as the increased acidity affects the stomach with more intensity when the stomach is empty.
  • Do not drastically reduce your coffee intake to avoid withdrawal symptoms, as nausea is a side effect of caffeine withdrawal. Gradually decrease your caffeine intake to prevent symptoms that could include nausea, nervousness, and headache.
  • Avoid drinking coffee during pregnancy
  • Try to avoid non-habitual and occasional caffeine from coffee, soda, black tea and energy drinks and chocolate.
  • Do not over consume caffeine. There is a recommended daily limit according to your age and physical conditions
  • Try to identify your personal tolerance to caffeine and reduce the daily coffee ingestion if necessary

What is the safe dose of coffee to not have nausea?

The safe dose of coffee to not have nausea is about 5 cups a day, which equals approximately the amount of caffeine of 400 mg per day. This is the recommended limit for a healthy adult (5). 

However, pregnants should not consume caffeine, as it can increase the risk of abortion and premature labor. In addition, nausea is more frequent during pregnancy and can be intensified by the ingestion of coffee (1,3). Children are also advised to not drink coffee.


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can coffee cause nausea? and discussed the reasons that could cause you to have nausea after drinking coffee and the safe limits of coffee intake for different individuals..

Other FAQs about Coffee which you may be interested in.

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  1. Nawrot, Peter, et al. Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Addit Contam, 2003, 20, 1-30. 
  2. Maughan, Ron J., and J. Griffin. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. J Human Nutr Diet, 2003, 16, 411-420.
  3. Lundsberg, Lisbet S. Caffeine consumption. Caffeine. CRC Press, 2019. 199-224. 
  4. Papakonstantinou, Emilia, et al. Acute effects of coffee consumption on self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms, blood pressure and stress indices in healthy individuals. Nutr J, 2015, 15, 1-11. 
  5. Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?. US Food and Drug Administration