Pain on Left Side of Body Pain after Consuming Caffiene
February 8, 2017 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Odd situation - And as a forward, I have been in contact with multiple physicians over this matter. In years past I have noticed that half my body (limbs, abdomen, head) gets a very slight pain and heaviness after consuming caffeinated beverages. This could last for a few hours or close to days. I am trying to find out the mechanism to why this happens.

I am stumped. I have been told migraine, allergy, or perhaps blood pressure could be the cause (could have more possibilities too, up in the air at this point). I have been looking for reasons 'why' without finding much online. Caffeine itself is an interesting substance and I have been having a hard time discerning interactions.

Is there any good point of literature on this effect? I have searched and am unable to find much of anything.

To be honest, my long game is to hopefully control this so I can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea sometime. A guy has to have hope, haha.

Thanks for any input, I will be sure to follow up on all!
posted by Lugos to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First, have you talked to a doctor about this? Had your blood pressure tested after consuming caffeine? Had an allergy test?

Caffeine is a very common headache/migraine trigger and that's what definitely stood out to me as a potential cause when reading your question. But I'm biased, because caffeine gives me headaches. Those headaches include things like a heaviness in the head/face, an achy neck, soreness/sensitivity at the back of my head, fatigue and a light vision disturbance.

I haven't found a way to have much caffeine without experiencing these problems. I can maybe have a cup of green tea once a week. I do pretty well with decaf coffee, which does contain a small amount of caffeine. Of course you can also check out herbal teas, but for me, they're just not the same. Though I do really enjoy brewing a strong cup of mint tea and adding steamed milk - - tasty, and mint has a bit of a pick-me-up of its own.
posted by imalaowai at 9:24 AM on February 8, 2017

IANAD but symptoms on only one side of your body (if that's what you meant) to me suggest the possibility of transient ischemic attack. And risk of stroke is known to go up after caffeine consumption.
posted by beagle at 9:30 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

When you said "limbs", I was reading that as "arm". But if it includes your legs as well, it definitely would seem more neurological than cardiac, as beagle suggests.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:59 AM on February 8, 2017

I have looked up TIA or stroke and have not found much. I had a brain scan and there was nothing visible from what the doctor stated. However this was a couple years ago when it happened (under very very similar circumstances).

I was also investigating a possibility that it was another neurological disorder (MS, etc).

It scares me a bit, but I think I am getting used to it.
posted by Lugos at 10:21 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recently learned that caffeine is vaso- constrictor, so to a non-doctor, it seems possible that it's triggering a circulation issue.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:32 AM on February 8, 2017

Why weren't you satisfied with migraine as a diagnosis? Seems not unreasonable.

Best medical advice is probably to stop drinking coffee.
posted by chiquitita at 12:00 PM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have noticed that half my body gets a very slight pain after consuming caffeinated beverages.

My husband started experiencing symptoms similar to what you've described. We were concerned that it was heart-related (left side) so he went to a doctor and checked it out, including an EKG. Everything was fine and his doctor told him that an increase in caffeine sensitivity often happens for no reason other than age (my husband is 45 so it doesn't have to be advanced age).

My long game is to hopefully control this so I can enjoy a cup of coffee sometime.

Have you tried l-theanine with your coffee? It counteracts a lot of the negative effects of coffee, if you take enough.
posted by rada at 12:43 PM on February 8, 2017

Caffeine as a common migraine trigger stood out to me as well -- hemiplegic migraine is a specific/unusual kind of migraine where the aura includes that sort of one-sided weakness on the timescale you describe, and it's possible to have "silent migraines" where you get just the aura without the actual splitting headache, although I don't know how common it is for hemiplegic migraine to also be silent.

My migraines aren't set off by caffeine, but for friends of mine whose are, they tend to have just sworn off it entirely, even the trace left in decaf coffee.
posted by dorque at 7:31 PM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

My body can't tolerate caffeine. It makes my heart race. I have a central nervous system disorder and it sets off palpitations, etc. When I would get those palpitations (and now when I get really tired or am having racing heart/palpitation problems) I get a heavy feeling in my left side more predominantly. I assume it's just a circulatory system related thing.

I can still drink tea. Just decaf or herbal. I mostly do herbal as it's less acidic on my stomach. I like rooibos which comes in many tea-like flavors like green and chai spiced.

Have they done heart tests during it? It could be something like palpitations. Otherwise, just avoid caffeine and do decaf or herbal things. It's a hell of a stimulant.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:43 PM on February 8, 2017

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