Did you have coffee once to keep you up at night during exam preparation, and have you been addicted to it since? With increasing environmental stress and pollution, thriving off a daily dose of caffeine or nicotine has become a lifestyle.
While some people like to end their day with dark chocolate, others generally consume a cup of morning coffee. Either way, you contribute to 80% of Americans who consume caffeine regularly.
Once coffee becomes a part of your routine, most people start noticing symptoms they usually did not face before increasing their coffee consumption.
The question arises; can coffee cause shortness of breath? If you are looking for this answer, read ahead and find the relation between caffeine and shortness of breath.
The Relation between Caffeine and Shortness of Breath
Common questions asked by caffeine addicts include whether coffee can cause shortness of breath, can too much caffeine cause shortness of breath, how much caffeine is too much caffeine, and the relation between bronchiectasis and coffee. Scroll down as we address all of them.
A commonly consumed caffeine, coffee, works as a stimulant for the nervous system. It works to increase alertness and puts the body in fight-or-flight mode, often categorized as an adrenaline rush.
Caffeine in the body increases nervous system activities, resulting in rapid breathing rate and heart rate. The high breathing and heart rate ensures adequate blood and oxygen are delivered to the body to carry out its sympathetic functions.
Additional to acting as a stimulant, the caffeine in your daily coffee intake also acts as a bronchodilator. A bronchodilator relaxes respiratory muscles to increase airflow into and out of the lungs.
When the respiratory drive does not match the individual’s lung capacity, the lungs fill up with carbon dioxide and lack oxygen. This leads to nervousness, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.
When consumed in large amounts, coffee can cause shortness of breath, classified as abnormalities, and cardiac arrest in the worst cases.
- Tachycardia, or increased heart rate coupled with lightheadedness, chest pain, and shortness of breath
- Tachypnea, or rapid shallow breathing
Moderate caffeine consumption in coffee results in minor symptoms, such as shortness of breath. These symptoms are mostly considered minor as they are short-lived and end once the effect of coffee has worn out.
Effect of Coffee on Individuals with Bronchiectasis
The relation between coffee and bronchiectasis is thoroughly researched and it is safe to say that bronchiectasis and coffee is not a safe combination.
Nervous stimulants such as caffeine in coffee are not just disapproved for individuals with bronchiectasis but also for those with any other lung abnormality or heart disease.
While a temporary increase in heart rate and tachypnea may not be a concern for a healthy individual, it poses individuals with underlying chronic lung diseases with an increased risk of cardiac arrest.
How Much Coffee is Too Much Coffee?
Consuming coffee in moderate doses does not cause instant symptoms, such as shortness of breath. In healthy individuals, a coffee overdose is likely to temporarily increase blood pressure, cause palpitations, and cause shortness of breath. However, a coffee overdose can lead to cardiac arrest in patients with an already present breathing abnormality.
The average healthy amount of caffeine consumption is different in various places. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), healthy adults should not exceed an average of 400 mg or 4 to 5 cups of caffeine (mostly in the form of coffee) in one day.
The Canadian average for caffeine consumption is way less than that of the U.S. According to the Government of Canada, children under 18 are only allowed to consume 2.5 mg of caffeine per kg body weight. This would mean that a healthy child weighing around 50 kg should not consume more than 20 grams of caffeine daily.
It only makes sense that everyone has a different sensitivity to coffee or caffeinated foods. While it is recommended not to exceed 4 to 5 8-ounce cups of coffee daily, you might want to stop your coffee consumption at 3 cups only if you start noticing any symptoms of a coffee overdose before you reach the average limit.
Other Symptoms of Drinking Too Much Coffee
Most people are aware that caffeine and shortness of breath are correlated. Here are a few other symptoms of caffeine overdose that you should know.
- Chest pain
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Frequent urination or dysuria
- Increased heartbeat
- Increased thirst
- Troubled sleep or trouble staying asleep
- Upset stomach
When should you see a Doctor?
As mentioned above, coffee can cause shortness of breath. See a doctor as soon as you have trouble breathing. Even if you have been noticing rapid breathing every time you consume coffee and know that the cause of your condition is caffeine, we suggest seeing a doctor.
The doctor will be able to figure out the real cause behind your condition and treat it accordingly in an effective manner. If in case, your shortness of breath is due to coffee intake, the doctor is likely to suggest you the necessary course of action, which may include altering your lifestyle and limiting caffeine.
How can you limit your Caffeine Intake?
Now that you know coffee can cause shortness of breath, you might want to decrease your caffeine intake. Follow the tips below to reduce your dependence on coffee and never feel out of breath again!
1. Drink plenty of Water
We know this one is old and overused, but we must emphasize the benefits of staying hydrated. Remember that when we say drink plenty of water, we do not mean drinking two glasses in one go. Keep a bottle of water at arm’s reach so you can sip on your water every few minutes.
This will help with fatigue and improve your energy levels, reducing the need to consume coffee whenever you feel exhausted.
2. Eat Healthy
Again, while this may sound old school, having a regular intake of adequate nutrients will never let you tire. Incorporate appropriate amounts of fiber, vitamin b complexes, vitamin c, zinc, iron, and magnesium in your daily diet. Taking supplements for every nutrient is not only heavy on the stomach but also on your pocket.
We suggest including dairy products, such as milk and cheese, eggs, liver, and other organ meat, tuna, salmon, mackerel, clams, poultry, nuts, whole grains, seeds, and all sorts of vegetables in your diet to get the nutrients your body requires in a day.
3. Switch to Low-caffeine or Caffeine Alternatives
You can either replace your common caffeinated food and beverages with those that have little to no caffeine or find other alternatives, such as:
- Chai tea
- Energy-boosting smoothie
- Herbal coffee
- Golden milk (turmeric milk)
- Peppermint tea
We do not recommend completely omitting coffee from your diet after growing a dependency on it. Instead, cut your caffeine intake slightly at first, then gradually increase the period you spend without caffeine in your system. For example, try a single-shot espresso instead of your regular double-shot espresso.
After some time, change that to a half-caf (half caffeinated and half decaf) coffee until you can drink decaf without facing withdrawal symptoms.
To sum it up, yes, coffee can cause shortness of breath. If you notice a relation between your caffeine intake and shortness of breath, we suggest getting a screening done to rule out any underlying lung diseases.
At HG Analytics, we have made it easier for you to prevent the progression of lung disease. Our team of professionals works with the sole notion of preventative wellness in mind and offers you a wellness screening to diagnose your condition at its earliest.
Reach out to us today if you suspect you may have any underlying lung disease due to which you face shortness of breath after consuming coffee. Getting the right diagnosis will allow you to prevent the progression of your condition to a more severe respiratory illness.