Can coffee cause gastritis

What a Daily Cup of Coffee Does to Your Digestion

It’s true that many doctors today, including Manhattan GI doctors, discourage their patients from drinking excessive amounts of coffee. Is it because of the caffeine? Is decaffeinated coffee healthier? Can that daily cup of coffee (or two or three) really affect your digestion?

The Proven Effects of Coffee

Coffee, whether it’s caffeinated or decaffeinated, does impact your body. Some of the effects are subtle; others are not so subtle:

  • Because of coffee’s acidity, it can adversely affect the lining of your stomach and intestines. If you drink a lot of coffee over an extended period, it may worsen some existing conditions that you may already have. It can worsen the symptoms often associated with gastritis and reflux.
  • Coffee can also stimulate the movement of your intestines. This can lead to bowl movements.

Coffee’s Anecdotal Impact

Coffee has been described to known to cause other digestive symptoms.

  • As an acidic beverage, coffee can worsen the symptoms of heartburn. This can lead to worse symptoms of indigestion.
  • Some anecdotal evidence has shown that coffee and caffeine can change the speed with which the GI tract moves. This can change the rate at which food is digested. This can cause abdominal pain.
  • The caffeine in coffee also is said to trigger insomnia, anxiety, and even an irregular heartbeat. This can lead to symptoms which affect the body as a whole and not just the GI tract.

How to Limit The Effects of Caffeine

If it’s the caffeine that is affecting you, switching to a decaffeinated drink will certainly help. Remember, though, that decaffeinated coffee isn’t a cure-all. As mentioned above, it might make some digestive problems worse.

Caffeine does increase the stomach acidity in some people, which often leads to heartburn. If decaf coffee doesn’t stop your symptoms, limit your coffee consumption to one cup a day.

Pay attention to the way coffee affects your body. Try cutting down or finding a substitute. If limiting yourself to one cup of coffee a day seems like going cold turkey, you’re drinking way too much coffee! To benefit your health and your digestion, see a doctor or gastroenterologist Dr. Shawn Khodadadian of Gastroenterology New York practice for help cutting your habit down to size.

Finally, if you suffer from GI problems like Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or ulcerative colitis (UC), you may not want to drink coffees it could exacerbate some of your symptoms. When in doubt, see your doctor!

For more information about how coffee affects your digestive system, contact NYC Gastroenterologist, Dr. Shawn Khodadadian.


What is gastritis?

Gastritis is when your stomach lining gets red and swollen (inflamed).

Your stomach lining is strong. In most cases acid does not hurt it. But it can get inflamed and irritated if you drink too much alcohol, eat spicy foods, or smoke.

What causes gastritis?

Gastritis may be caused by many things.
It can be caused by diet and lifestyle habits such as:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Smoking
  • Extreme stress
  • Long-term use of aspirin and over-the-counter pain and fever medicines (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs)

Health issues that can lead to gastritis include:

  • Infections caused by bacteria and viruses
  • Major surgery
  • Traumatic injury or burns

Some diseases can also cause gastritis. These include:

  • Autoimmune disorders. When your immune system attacks your body’s healthy cells by mistake.
  • Chronic bile reflux. When bile, a fluid that helps with digestion, backs up into your stomach and food pipe (esophagus).
  • Pernicious anemia. A form of anemia that happens when your stomach is not able to digest vitamin B12.

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

Each person’s symptoms may vary. The most common symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Stomach upset or pain
  • Belching and hiccups
  • Belly or abdominal bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of fullness or burning in your stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in your vomit or stool (a sign that your stomach lining may be bleeding)

The symptoms of gastritis may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.

How is gastritis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will give you a physical exam and ask about your past health. You may also have tests including:

  • Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or barium swallow. This X-ray checks the organs of the top part of your digestive system. It checks the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). You will swallow a metallic fluid called barium. Barium coats the organs so that they can be seen on the X-ray.
  • Upper endoscopy, also called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy). This test looks at the inside of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. It uses a thin, lighted tube, called an endoscope. The tube has a camera at one end. The tube is put into your mouth and throat. Then it goes into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Your healthcare provider can see the inside of these organs. He or she can also take a small tissue sample (biopsy) if needed.
  • Blood tests. You will have a test for H. pylori, a type of bacteria that may be in your stomach. Another test will check for anemia. You can get anemia when you don’t have enough red blood cells.
  • Stool spectrum. This test checks to see if you have stomach bacteria that can cause gastritis. A small sample of your stool is collected and sent to a lab. Another stool specimen can check for blood in your stool which may be a sign of gastritis if there has been bleeding.
  • Breath test. You may have a test where your breath is collected and analyzed for a stomach bacteria.

How is gastritis treated?

Your healthcare provider will make a care plan for you based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and past health
  • How serious your case is
  • How well you handle certain medicines, treatments, or therapies
  • If your condition is expected to get worse
  • What you would like to do

In most cases you will be given antacids and other medicines to reduce your stomach acid. This will help ease your symptoms and heal your stomach lining.

If your gastritis is caused by an illness or infection, you should also treat that health problem.

If your gastritis is caused by the H. pylori bacteria, you will be given medicines to help kill the bacteria. In most cases you will take more than 1 antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor (medicine that reduces the amount of acid in your stomach). You may also be given an antidiarrheal.

Do not have any foods, drinks, or medicines that cause symptoms or irritate your stomach. If you smoke, it is best to quit.

What are the complications of gastritis?

Chronic gastritis hurts your stomach lining. It can raise your risk for other health problems such as:

  • Peptic ulcer disease, painful sores in your upper digestive tract
  • Gastric polyps, small masses of cells that form on the inside lining of your stomach
  • Stomach tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous

You may also get atrophic gastritis. This can happen if your gastritis is caused by the H. pylori bacteria or by an autoimmune disorder. Atrophic gastritis destroys the stomach lining cells that make your digestive juices. This raises your risk for getting stomach cancer.

Can gastritis be prevented?

Experts don’t know it is possible to stop gastritis from happening. But you may lower your risk of getting the disease by:

  • Having good hygiene habits, especially washing your hands. This can keep you from getting the H. pylori bacteria.
  • Not eating or drinking things that can irritate your stomach lining. This includes alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods.
  • Not taking medicines such as aspirin and over-the-counter pain and fever medicines (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS).

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have new symptoms. Call right away if you have bloody vomit, blood in your stools, or black, tarry-looking stools.

Key points

  • Gastritis is a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the stomach lining.
  • It can be caused by drinking too much alcohol, eating spicy foods, or smoking.
  • Some diseases and other health issues can also cause gastritis.
  • Symptoms may include stomach pain, belching, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bleeding, feeling full, and blood in vomit or stool.
  • In most cases you will be given antacids and other medicines to reduce your stomach acid.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that irritate your stomach lining.
  • Stop smoking.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

Published: December, 2014

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach’s lining. It can be caused by smoking, drinking too much alcohol, long-term use of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, severe injury, or shock. Sometimes gastritis is an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells that line the stomach.

Symptoms of gastritis

Symptoms of gastritis can include:

  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • constant pain between the navel and lower ribs
  • nausea, sometimes with vomiting
  • poor appetite
  • belching, bloating, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen that is made worse by eating

Serious gastritis can lead to erosion of the stomach lining, which can cause painful ulcers and black stools (a sign of bleeding in the stomach). It can also cause anemia, or too few red blood cells in circulation. This can lead to fatigue and being short of breath with physical activity.

Diagnosing gastritis

Your story of your symptoms and a physical examination may be all a doctor needs to diagnose gastritis.

A breath test may be needed to see if your stomach harbors Helicobacter pylori. Some people need a procedure called gastroscopy. In this procedure, a doctor passes a flexible, lighted instrument down your throat and into your stomach. With this instrument, he or she can inspect your stomach lining directly take a small tissue sample (biopsy) to be examined in the laboratory.

Treating gastritis

Treating gastritis begins with stopping or removing the cause, such as drinking too much alcohol or smoking. If you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis or other pain, trying an alternative such as misoprostol may be important.

Modifying diet. If you think that certain foods make your symptoms worse, keep a food diary and track what you eat against your symptoms. If you see connections between certain foods and symptoms, don’t eat the offending foods for a while and see if your gastritis improves. Problem foods tend to be those that are fatty, spicy, or very acidic, like coffee, orange juice, tomato juice, and colas.

Medication. A common treatment for gastritis is taking medication to decrease stomach acid. Several classes of medication can do this:

  • over-the-counter antacids
  • over-the-counter or prescription H2 blockers (also known as acid reducers) such as Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, and their generic equivalents
  • and proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix).

Proton pump inhibitors are the strongest acid blockers, but are usually more expensive.

Triple therapy. If your test for Helicobacter pylori is positive, a two-week course of “triple therapy” may stop the infection and improve your symptoms. Triple therapy includes a proton-pump inhibitor plus two different antibiotics, amoxicillin and clarithromycin.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

What to Do When You’re Addicted to Coffee, but It Hurts Your Stomach

Life is filled with tough choices. Consider the first one many of us make every single morning: A steaming cup of life-giving coffee or not having a crampy, painful stomach. Sure, there are plenty of harder decisions we’ll all be faced with at some point, but coffee should be one of the easy ones, right?

So why, for some of us, does it make our stomachs feel like a toxic wasteland every morning? And more importantly, how can we keep on drinking coffee without getting all bloated and uncomfortable? Can’t we just have this one thing?

There has been surprisingly little academic research on the subject, considering the fact that Americans drink over three cups of coffee a day on average. However, publications from The Washington Post to Scientific American have explored coffee’s effects on digestion.

According to Dr. Ehsan Ali, MD, a primary care physician and concierge doctor in Beverly Hills, a cup o’ joe and indigestion can go hand in hand. “Coffee can stimulate the nervous system, which causes the stomach to contract and squeeze,” Dr. Ali told Extra Crispy. “In large amounts, can be the cause of stomach pains.”

It may be tempting to chug coffee when you’re feeling particularly exhausted during that mid-afternoon slump; when it’s cooled off it doesn’t taste all that great and morphs into an unpleasant quick fix. But it’s best to warm it up or add ice and savor it. That’s not only because you deserve better than sad, lukewarm coffee, but because it’s healthier to take your time.

“Drinking it very slowly with small sips can make it easier on your stomach,” Dr. Ali said.

Additionally, coffee “increases the acidity in the stomach,” which can cause a stomach ache—especially for people with acid reflux or acidity, explained Dr. Ali.

It’s difficult to avoid intense acidity, as that’s the nature of most brewed coffees, explained cardiologist Dr. Steven Gundry—but some roasts are easier on the stomach. Cold-brew coffee, for example, has less acid than hot coffee due to the way it’s prepared. “You can even buy low-acid coffees,” Gundry said.

Dr. Gundry also highlighted that it’s important not to drink coffee on an empty stomach, as the aforementioned acidity isn’t all too stellar for your stomach lining. It’s important to provide a cushion—like “a full eight ounces of water with a squeeze of lemon before your first cup in the morning,” he added. “You’ll be amazed how that helps.”

Acidity isn’t the only culprit, though—caffeine is also a factor, though it’s not entirely understood why, according to Niket Sonpal, M.D., a gastroenterologist and assistant clinical professor of medicine in New York City. “There is an association between caffeine and having a bowel movement,” Sonpal said when asked why coffee, as Women’s Health so aptly puts it, “gives you the runs.”

According to Dr. Sonpal, “the thinking is caffeine is a pro-motility agent,” meaning that it encourages contraction of the muscles that help pass food through the digestive tract. This could cause cramping and, alas, an urgent trip to the bathroom. (Listen, we were inevitably going to reach this point of the conversation. Don’t pretend you didn’t know that.)

If your stomach is still cramping up after your morning cup, and you’re open to changing things up, you can try (whispers) tea, which can provide that blessed dose of caffeine without all the stomach issues. Dr. Ali suggests green tea, which “is much milder and less likely to cause stomach issues,” he said.

However, if the thought of giving up your coffee makes you equal parts drained and distraught, there’s always the trusty antacid. Just make sure your coffee is worth it. Who needs burnt office coffee that causes indigestion when you can have sous vide coffee that causes indigestion?

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *