Caffeine sensitivity, hours later?
September 14, 2018 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Can caffeine sensitivity symptoms show up inconsistently, and hours after consuming caffeine? The last two times I've had coffee or black tea after mid-afternoon, I've noticed anxiety and elevated heart rate, and feel my blood pounding... four to six hours later. However, I have a cup of coffee with breakfast daily and feel fine.

Possibly relevant: I am female, 30, generally healthy, have anxiety that's controlled with xanax as needed (not very often).
posted by zeptoweasel to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
As someone who has stayed away from caffeine for the last 15 years or so because it's part of what triggers my migraines, it seems totally possible to me. Different people react really differently to it.
posted by umbú at 7:34 PM on September 14, 2018

Best answer: Are you consuming more/different food with your caffeine in the morning? That could be what's mitigating the effect.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:46 PM on September 14, 2018

Best answer: I experience this. I know that’s not a scientific answer but maybe it’ll help.

I drink one small cup of the same kind of coffee every day. If I drink much more than that in a day, or say a super-caffeinated iced coffee in one sitting, I tweak out and experience racing heart and dread—“jitters” is too mild a term. And yes, it’s always hours later (I’m a slow metabolizer, but also it just makes sense as we don’t experience e.g., food poisoning until hours after the bad food is consumed.)
posted by kapers at 7:47 PM on September 14, 2018

Best answer: Yup. Caffeine does a number on me, in different ways. For me it depends on how much food/water/sleep/exercise I've had, what my mood is, and the strength of the coffee, and it can result in anxiety/euphoria/energy/absolutely no effect.

And yep I can drink coffee, feel fine and then hours later get anxious because of it.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 8:15 PM on September 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another anecdote that this is a thing. I drink coffee every morning and experience no side effects. Afternoon coffee makes me jittery, sweaty, and stomach-crampy but it's ALWAYS enough hours later that I forget about the coffee and momentarily think I'm dying. My theory is that I "need" the coffee in the morning (to wake up, add energy, whatever caffeine actually does) but not in the afternoon.

The first time I ever drank coffee it was 7 pm because I'm an idiot and had literally never consumed a full serving of caffeine. At 2 am I was laying in bed, wide awake, marveling at how I could feel my pulse in my fingertips.
posted by raspberrE at 8:31 PM on September 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I sometimes have a thing if I have caffeine with sugar. So what I get feels sort of like a caffeine rush (much later) but it's really a weird blood sugar crash. I'd see if there is something different between your morning coffee and your afternoon coffee (do you have a snack with afternoon coffee for example?) and go from there.
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 AM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this happens to me too, though I'm afraid I don't have more scientific evidence than that.
posted by ferret branca at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2018

Best answer: You may be aging out of afternoon caffeine. It happened to me in my 30s. It was nice while it lasted, right?
posted by veggieboy at 8:12 AM on September 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers, everyone! Especially those who suggested a food connection -- both of these times I had caffeine with food, but by the time the symptoms showed up I hadn't eaten for several hours. Whereas four to six hours after breakfast coffee, I'm eating lunch.

Yeah, veggieboy, it was nice while it lasted. Boooo.
posted by zeptoweasel at 9:43 AM on September 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've recently noticed what I think might be an intolerance to caffeine. Two weeks ago I experienced swelling in my hands and feet, along with a slightly elevated (but noticeable) heart rate. That was also the week that I drank 20 ounces of coffee in the morning and a Rockstar energy beverage mid-day and the effects started an hour or two later and didn't stop until I got home after work. So this week I drank only water and Gatorade and didn't have a single issue. Today I drank a Pepsi? Two hours later, mild swelling in my hands and feet.

This has happened to me previously over the past 10 years or so, but it happened like maybe once a month, if that. Now I'm thinking one of my newer meds doesn't react well with caffeine, but it could also just be aging or my body not being used to THAT MUCH caffeine anymore. (And I've never had the speedy, hyped up reaction to caffeine before - I have ADHD, so stimulants = concentration and chill.) So I'm sorry for your caffeine loss, but there are plenty of caffeine-free alternatives out there now.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:41 PM on September 16, 2018

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