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Caffeine Allergy/Intolerance

I have had a serious problem with caffeine ever since I got the Gardasil vaccine. Whether or not the two are related, I have no clue, but I was an avid coffee drinker, soda drinker, what have you, before I got this vaccine. About two days after I received the vaccine I started to suffer something I cannot even accurately describe--my hands would tingle, I would feel like I was dying, I felt like I had the flu and I had a horrible fever. Beside the fact that I was having a bad reaction to the vaccine, I didn't realize that at the same time I was having a bad reaction to caffeine. All of the sudden, any time I had any coffee, soda or anything, I had a horrible panic attack and felt like, for lack of better words, like I was going crazy. I have suffered this since February of 2007. Just today I had HALF of a diet coke, no kidding, HALF, and the entire day couldn't even exist in my own skin. It is as if my body cannot metabolize it properly and it honestly makes my blood pressure go sky high---i'm talking like 150s or so without me even being anxious. What do I do??? What caused this?? Does anyone else have a similar experience??

From someone who is completely lost and feeling like they have no answers, there has to be someone else who has experienced what I have. And if not, then maybe I have no hope of anyone helping me explain what happened....I went to the dr. who administered the vaccine, who wouldn't help me, and countless others who dismissed my problems. But this is a last ditch effort to find someone else who either shares this problem or who can help me out.

194 Responses
Avatar universal

Caffeine Allergy Symptoms

Caffeine allergy symptoms range from a minor rash to life threatening seizures. The severity of the reaction depends on what the person is actually allergic to and to what extent a person is allergic. Some of the reactions associated with caffeine allergies include difficulty breathing, shock, tongue, and facial swelling. These reactions are different than those associated with consuming too much caffeine which include jitters, headache, insomnia, and irritability. An uncommon component to caffeine that people experience adverse reactions to is tannins, but it does happen. Tannins are not only found in coffee and soda, but in chocolate and red wine as well. Adverse reactions to herbicides and pesticides used to grow coffee beans is a much more common culprit of adverse reactions. Keeping a diary of food consumed, physical and mental feelings each day, and physical activity will aid in discovering specific reasons for allergic reactions.
Caffeine allergy symptoms can be as subtle as tingling in the mouth, itchy skin, and minor swelling of the throat. People who have these reactions every day may not even notice them.
Many alternatives are available to replace caffeinated beverages and foods. Some people depend on drinking a warm beverage in the morning or throughout the day which can be replaced with chia tea, soy coffee, or Teeccino.

Avatar universal
Right, I get all that, I know that, but my question is, how does that just happen out of the blue? And it seems to have been triggered by the vaccine I got. I had been having caffeine regularly for years before that.

And it's not as cut and dry as that either. It's as if my body can't properly metabolize the caffeine, and I wind up with ungodly high blood pressure after having as little as half a cup of coffee or half of a soda and I feel like I'm dying. It's even made it so bad that I felt like I was going to pass out. What causes this??
Avatar universal
Kelly, I have the exact same problem.  Caffeine makes my heart race and gives me terrible panic attacks - and it came pretty much out of the blue.  I can't even take certain medications like Excedrin because of the caffeine content.

I don't have the symptoms the good doctor mentioned above, so I don't know if what I have can be classified as an allergy.  And I don't know what to tell you about why it happened so suddenly or what is causing it, but I figured you might take some comfort in knowing that you aren't alone.
Avatar universal
I don't have those symptoms either! That's why I was so frustrated when that was the only response I got. I was thinking, there has to be someone else who has this problem!! I felt horrible for a long time because I didn't realize it was caffeine that was the problem. I think somehow it built up in my system and I overdosed on it--have you read anything about caffeine overdoses and how that happens?

I'm so glad you wrote back to me! I've been so frustrated for so long about this and I kept trying to see if I could have a coke--but last week was the last straw. I had HALF of a diet coke and I felt like I was going to die (not really, but you know what I mean) for the rest of the day. So I've decided it must be some kind of real allergy or intolerance.

Did anything seem to trigger your allergy? how long have you had it?
Avatar universal
I can't remember doing anything different in my routine the week I suddenly was no longer able to drink caffeine.  One day I could drink it, and then a week later, after two panic attacks and feeling like my heart was going to explode, I figured out it was the caffeine.  It's been about four years now, and I know it's still there because around Christmas some idiot at Starbucks made me a fully caffeinated drink when I asked for decaf. I was on a subway train in New York when it hit, and I felt like I was about to explode out of my skin.

I have not read about caffeine overdoses, but I tended to only have one or two caffeinated drinks during an average day, so I doubt that was the cause of my issue.

The only thing I've found that makes sense online (I googled Caffeine intolerance - which was how I found you) was that people with anxiety disorders seem more susceptible to caffeine intolerance, something about it causing over-stimulation.   Anxiety disorders run in my family, and my mother, who has both an anxiety disorder and a heart condition, can also not drink caffeine. She just goes spastic if she does.

I haven't really tried to do very much research into the issue. Once I figured out what it was, I just avoided drinking caffeine.  I also stopped taking most cold and allergy medications because of the pseudoephedrine in them. Do you have a problem with those medications as well? They have a very similar affect on me.
Avatar universal
I don't really have any problems w/ pseudoephedrine--I have in the past, but it's usually few and far between b/c I don't take it too much.

That's really interesting about caffeine not being tolerated well by people who have anxiety disorders--I don't have a "disorder" per se, but I have had problems with anxiety before and I still do sometimes. I just get too worked up about things, but it's so much better now that I don't have any caffeine. I'm 24 now--the first time I ever had an anxiety episode was in college when I was about 19 and I had started taking advair and singulair for the first time for my asthma/allergies. I'm still convinced that that's what has opened the floodgates for me, so to speak.

As far as anxiety disorders go, different things can trigger the onset of them if you have a genetic predisposition for it, and for me that's what it was and I've had a problem with it ever since.

Sorry--I kind of went off subject, but the anxiety was never unbearable/unmanageable and I had always had caffeine without any problems. I will always remember the day everything hit me and it was just hell--I was driving to visit my parents and all of the sudden I felt like I couldn't even be in my own skin, just like you described. From there it was just a downward spiral--I was just practically crazy for months until I figured out I couldn't have caffeine, which just killed me--coffee was such a huge part of my day!!

And I can't even have decaf--at least you can do that. I can't have any caffeine at all :(

Everyone kept acting like I was being ridiculous when I mentioned a possible caffeine allergy or intolerance--even doctors!! I just think it's upsetting when you can't even trust your doctor to hear you out and accept the possibility that you have developed an allergy to something.
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