Caffeine Allergy: Top 20 Symptoms
Some people have asked if people can be allergic to caffeine. Yes, people can in some sense allergic to caffeine, but it’s not a true allergy. And, it’s not something a lot of doctors have been known to look for when people are exhibiting unexplained symptoms.
Sometime ago, we published a short post entitled “Yes, You Can Be Allergic to Caffeine“.
That post received hundreds of comments from those who claim to have experienced some type of adverse reaction to caffeine.
We have painstakingly sifted through all those comments and have derived the top 20 caffeine allergic reactions in order from most common to least common.
In most cases these symptoms were reported after only having a little to moderate amount of caffeine through coffee, tea, soda and/or energy drinks.
Most Common Allergic Reactions to Caffeine
- Skin problems such as hives, eczema, rashes, acne, severe itching.
- Headaches/ migraines.
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Can’t focus or concentrate
- Tongue, glands, or throat swelling.
- Heart racing/ palpitations.
- Angry, irritable, bad mood.
- Extreme jitters.
- Chest Pain.
- Numbness in face, hands, or feet.
- Muscle pain.
- Shortness of breath/ tightness of chest.
- Delusions/ hallucinations.
- Flu/ cold like symptoms.
- Vision problems.
- Cold sweats.
- Eyes swollen shut.
Is this Scientific Evidence?
There is genetic evidence regarding the inability to process caffeine as some people lack the genes responsible for this or the genes aren’t being expressed as they should be. This allows caffeine to build up in a person’s body rather than being broken down properly.
The above data is entirely based on anecdotal evidence, so don’t take it as gospel or scientific, but rather consider these caffeine allergy symptoms as possible since they were reported by a large number of people. If a person suspects a caffeine allergy, he/she should cease caffeine consumption immediately and then assess as to whether it was indeed the caffeine. The symptoms should subside after caffeine is eliminated.
There is a fine line between what would be called caffeine sensitivity and what would be called caffeine allergy, but overall we’re dealing with the body not being able to correctly process the caffeine molecule, so whether it’s called sensitivity or allergy is up for debate.
Most people on the original article reported several of the above symptoms and some of the caffeine allergy symptoms were quite bizarre. The symptoms that were the strangest included itchy ears & anus suffered by one poor soul and a sweaty butt crack reported by another…
Caffeine allergy has also been linked to a form of ADD and dementia in adults. The claim is that caffeine induced anaphylaxis impairs people’s abilities to concentrate and remember things. (Src.)
What To Do If You Are Suffering
If you’re suffering from the above symptoms try doing a type of elimination diet.
- Explore our extensive Caffeine in Food database as well as our Caffeine in Beverages database in order to be aware of all the products that have caffeine listed as an ingredient along with the amount they contain.
- Eliminate these products from your diet. There may be a period of caffeine withdrawal where you actually feel worse.
- Assess whether your symptoms have disappeared. It may take up to 2 weeks for all of caffeine’s effects to wear off.
Please note: A surprising number of products contain caffeine, and some have a lot more than what you think.
Even decaffeinated drinks still contain caffeine – although only a small amount such as decaf brewed coffee.
Education is best way to prevent an allergic reaction to caffeine.