Coffee and Fibromyalgia – A Bumpy Relationship

Coffee and Fibromyalgia - A Bumpy RelationshipI wanted to blog about one of my main weaknesses in dealing with my Fibromyalgia symptoms – that of my coffee addiction. I don’t just have caffeine addiction. I know this because I don’t have the same problem with ‘normal’ tea, cola drinks or green tea. I really enjoy the flavours in coffee, as well as the different variations you can create. Adding flavours, different kinds of milk, chocolate flakes and extra shots of espresso. I enjoy double espressos, lattes, mochas – pretty much most variations. So let’s have a look at the relationship between coffee and Fibromyalgia – from my personal experience.

What does Coffee Do To You?

The main problem with caffeine is that it causes the synapses in the brain to ‘fire off’. In the immediate moment this helps alertness, hence the ability to wake up better after a morning brew. But it also dehydrates you and raises blood pressure. That article goes on to say that coffee can catch you in a vicious cycle – drinking a lot actually makes you tireder, which leads to you feeling like you need to drink more of it!

Coffee and Fibromyalgia with Chronic Fatigue

So we come to the crux of my problem. Fighting pain all the time is very tiring and demoralising. It can leave you drained. So I use coffee to wake me up, but the facts actually say that I shouldn’t. If Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue are already linked, then consuming any substance which makes that worse should simply be avoided.

The reason having too many cups of Joe can leave you drained is that if you use a chemical, caffeine, to cause your brain synapses to fire too much and they ‘fizz out’ (technical biological term, there). Ironically, too much coffee can lead to insomnia (which for Fibro people can be Painsomnia) and indeed, headaches (because we just don’t get enough pain with a Chronic Illness)!

Coffee and Gluten Intolerance

With Fibromyalgia, Coffee Behaves a lot like GlutenA recent complication I came across is that I may have to address the possibility that my Fibro-riddled body may have a reaction to gluten. I am discovering that gluten is in everything and acts like an addictive poison. On top of the likelihood that gluten is exacerbating my pain levels, is that coffee can behave like gluten (as, apparently do other foods).

So the likelihood is that some foods have been doing me harm – from breakfast food, to my enjoyment of pizza, to my preference for beer as an alcoholic drink. But worse, if a drink like coffee behaves like gluten then I’m well and truly stuffed.

I must research more into this issue and experiment with reducing gluten sources in my diet and see if there are any pain level improvements as a result. But right now I need to address the coffee addiction.

Coffee Video based on Research

Yes, there are bad side effects on coffee/caffeine, but there are also some health benefits. A friend from SWTOR shared this video with me, so you may find it interesting too! (If you’re on a mobile phone, I suggest clicking the ‘full screen’ button – regulating the proportions of YouTube videos is something I’ll have to look at in the future).

TL;DR – Coffee and Fibromyalgia – Biting the Bullet

So, I have come to a couple of painful conclusions: I need to really examine the gluten issue. And I need to cut out coffee to reduce self-inflicted Fibromyalgia pain. That will lead to withdrawal symptoms but they won’t last forever. I need to stay rehydrated and I need to not be addicted. I will blog about my progress on this journey, but in the meantime, wish me luck!

And if you have any stories about cutting out Coffee or Gluten, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Coffee and Fibromyalgia – A Bumpy Relationship

  1. The conclusion I came to is coffee and fibro are not friends, it usually does one of two things to me: makes me very dizzy or aggravates my bladder so I tend to have it very sparingly. As far as gluten is concerned I’ve been tested twice and both times it was negative, but for fog related reasons I have no idea whether I was better as gluten free or not. Dairy is the thing that makes a big difference to my ability to function (but ironically they won’t test that). Hope you have a low pain day, and your coffee issues pan out as you wish 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Emily! It seems different Fibromyalgia sufferers have different sensitivities. As far as I know I don’t have a dairy allergy but I know though trial and error that I need to minimise my gluten intake. It’s finding what works for you, then keeping to it! Hope you’re having a manageable pain day – every day is the same, but the pain types change each day! Fun times, eh? 😉

  2. My pain specialist- who is absolutely brilliant, keeps up to date on all new research, and is open to using any tools at his avail, and also suffers from chronic pain though to a much lesser degree- advises firmly against three things: gluten, dairy and sugar. He says that this is not an issue of a comorbid allergy per se, one will likely test negative as Emily (above) has found, but that these things do increase pain in those with severe fibromyalgia. We have never actually discussed caffeine though I do know he doesn’t drink caffeinated beverages himself. I, however, love my coffee. I’ve tried to limit those things in my diet but the difficulty is finding suitable replacements on an extremely tight budget. I simply can’t do it. I’m a vegetarian (not vegan) which limits me further- and that is not something I’m willing to change. In addition I have multiple chemical sensitivities and an anaphylactic allergy to a compound now being used in at least 25% of foods, cosmetics, soaps etc. on the market. This too is very common for Fibro sufferers. So my question is this- when I’m unable to work and trying to live and raise children on an inadequate disability pension, how on earth do I accommodate the costs of such a specialized diet? Further, when I am unable to physically manage to do any more than heat a meal most days (gone are my days of scratch cooking) how do I find convenient, affordable, prepared foods that meet these criteria and aren’t laden with chemicals that aggravate too? I realize I’ve strayed a bit off topic here, but I think these issues are all interconnected. As for the coffee, I have definitely cut back significantly but think that it would be an extremely difficult thing to give up entirely. Oh- and I’m not a beer drinker myself, but did recently read an article about the new gluten-free beers on the market. Might be worth checking out. 🙂

    1. Hi there – and thanks for taking so much time to reply. You are not the first to have said dairy makes a big difference. My wife has had to go dairy-free since falling pregnant (something her midwife has never heard happen before) so we can definitely try that. I have already had to go gluten-free with fibromyalgia and found that to be a benefit. Sugar I’m average with – so I rarely have it in coffee, but I do have chocolate for energy-crashes. Trying to mix it up with peanuts for slower-release energy. So I think I may have to look at dairy-free eating – though I’ll have to give up my cheese obsession (dairy-free cheese doesn’t appeal!).

      On your issue of shoe-string cooking but with cutting things out is really hard. I think you do well to manage with your condition and raising children – that’s amazing. Parents like you deserve an award. Pre-packaged food often contain gluten and/or dairy. I don’t know what’s available in your country but Tesco here have a ‘free from’ range which is usually both gluten- and dairy-free. But pre-prepared foods are expensive when avoiding certain food types. I don’t take it for granted, but my other half and family help out with making food (to avoid additives etc). I don’t know if you could ask friends or families to occasionally help with home-cooked food? I know people like you and I don’t like asking for help, but help is what we often need!

      And you’re right, everything is inter-connected. Food, sleep (ha!), stress (work and home stress), weather, mood, noise levels. Humans are holistic by nature, so we shouldn’t be surprised that health conditions often are too.

      Don’t know if anything here helped you, but your comment has already been discussed with my other half over here, so thank you! 🙂

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