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Should You Drink Coffee/Caffeine While You’re Sick?

Should You Drink Coffee/Caffeine While You’re Sick?

Sean Gregory
4 minute read

When you’re down and out with the latest bug floating around the office or school all you want is to feel normal. Right? The smell and feel of your favorite cup of joe are all that get you out of that bed, but is it the best choice when you’re sick? There are pros and cons with any choice and this article will explore the benefits and downsides of caffeinated beverages while you’re down and out.


The Long and Short of It

Coffee and other caffeinated beverages are tempting because they break through the brain fog commonly associated with illnesses like the cold and flu, but they can make your illness worse. The fleeting benefits may not outweigh the long-term costs.


Will You Feel Better?

Caffeine provides that jolt you need to get moving in the morning and get through the afternoon slump, no wonder you would turn to it when you’re feeling under the weather! That half-sleeping and slow brain feeling commonly associated with colds and flu is a real drag and caffeine can help that. Caffeinated beverages like coffee increase alertness and brain function even when you’re sick. Combined with your typical over-the-counter medications, caffeinated beverages can significantly increase your mood and performance during your malaise. There’s no doubt that coffee/caffeine, while you’re sick, will help you feel better.


Caffeinated Drinks Don’t Help You Get Better.

Whether these comforting drinks can help you get better may depend on your ailment, but there are downsides.

  • Coffee is a diuretic: it can dehydrate you. However, you’re regular drinking habits and keeping it below 3 cups of coffee a day can negate this effect. If you’re suffering from the flu, a heavy cold, or something like food poisoning that are naturally dehydrating, you may want to opt for a different beverage choice.
  • Coffee is acidic: If you’re already having stomach problems/aches, your coffee may make them worse. If you still feel the need for caffeine, then try switching to a less acidic coffee, like a cold brew.
  • Coffee can cause bloating which will only make you feel worse especially if you have a stomach bug.
  • Caffeine and Coffee can interact with medications: common cold and flu medications are stimulants and their effect is increased by caffeine. This has caused serious side effects in some people! Caffeine can also interfere with the performance of antibiotics you’re given for a bacterial infection.


What Should You Drink When You’re Not Feeling Well?

The consensus is that how much caffeine will affect you while you’re sick depends on your habits before you were sick. The bottom line is it’s up to you. If you’re concerned about drinking coffee, try these alternatives while you’re sick:

  • Water: while always the best start to hydration, sometimes it just doesn’t cut it while you’re sick.
  • Green Tea: a little bit of caffeine and plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system, one of which is 100x more potent than vitamin C
  • Ginger Tea: the ginger in this tea may help with any stomach upset
  • Herbal Tea: hot drinks can help clear a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat. Try a tea that has ingredients like elderberry or echinacea to help boost your immune system.


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