5 medicines you shouldn’t mix with coffee

Science and Health

The morning ritual: coffee followed by a visit to the bathroom. Sound familiar?

It’s a common habit for many of us. But did you know that coffee not only provides a morning alertness boost but also stimulates your digestive system, affecting digestion rates and the absorption of various substances from food?

This stimulating effect of caffeine can disrupt the absorption of certain nutrients, like iron. Hence, it’s advisable to avoid coffee or black tea after a hearty meaty meal.

Additionally, caffeine can interact with various medications, affecting their absorption and activity. Let’s explore some surprising interactions with familiar treatments:

  1. Antidepressants

The use of antidepressants has surged in recent decades, becoming the most common medication for people in their 20 and 30s. If you’re taking these essential medicines, it’s crucial to understand how coffee can impact their absorption and effectiveness.

Caffeine is known to affect the absorption of specific antidepressants, such as fluvoxamine, amitriptyline, escitalopram, and imipramine. In some cases, caffeine can reduce the absorption of the active substances from these drugs. Conversely, studies indicate that fluvoxamine may improve the body’s response to caffeine, mitigating its side effects like insomnia and increased heart rate. If you’re on antidepressants, wait at least an hour after taking them before sipping your coffee or consult a qualified medical professional.

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  1. Blood Pressure Medications

It’s common knowledge that caffeine elevates heart rate and can influence blood pressure. Thus, combining caffeine with high blood pressure medication can be problematic. These drugs typically work to slow the heart rate, reducing the heart’s workload in pumping blood to all body cells.

Research suggests that drinking coffee while taking certain medications like amlodipine may hinder drug absorption, potentially compromising its effectiveness. While usually not life-threatening, this combination should be avoided. When in doubt, consult a healthcare provider about this and other potential interactions.

  1. Asthma Medications

If you suffer from asthma and use bronchodilators like aminophylline or theophylline, it’s crucial to understand how these drugs work and their effects on the body. Bronchodilators containing steroids relax the airways, making breathing easier but can lead to side effects such as headaches, restlessness, stomach pains, and irritability.

Studies indicate that consuming coffee and other caffeinated beverages can increase the risk of these side effects and, in some cases, reduce drug absorption.

  1. Diabetes Treatments

Consuming caffeinated beverages of any kind may elevate insulin and blood sugar levels, as per a study by the American Diabetes Association. This study, though relatively small, suggests that increased caffeine consumption could make it challenging to regulate blood sugar and increase the risk of diabetes-related complications.

It’s important to note that adding milk and sugar to your coffee, as most people do, can further raise blood sugar levels, potentially hindering the effectiveness of diabetes medications.

  1. Cold and Allergy Medications

Unlike other medications on this list, most of us turn to cold and allergy treatments at some point, even if we don’t regularly take other medications. These drugs may contain steroids or components like pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, which increase central nervous system activity.

When consumed close to coffee intake, these drugs can amplify their effect on the central nervous system, increasing the risk of common side effects like restlessness, irritability, and sleep disturbances. If you’re taking these medications, consult a healthcare professional to understand how to use them safely.