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Caffeine and medication interactions, what to watch out for

caffeine and medication

Ah, that morning cup of coffee. Is there anything more quintessential than waking up to that smell and knowing you’re about to get a jolt of caffeine to help you start your day? However, you should probably know something about caffeine and medications, and be aware of how your morning brew and daily meds could interact.

At best, you’ll experience a small inconvenience, like mild headaches; with some medications, the interaction is so severe that you put yourself at risk of fainting and maybe even making the medication not work at all.

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Here are six common medications that you should be watching out for, if you take caffeine at all. We’ve ranked them by three categories: Serious, Moderate, and Mild.

Six Common Caffeine and Medication Interactions

Serious Caffeine Interactions:

Zanaflex (tizanidine) – Zanaflex is used to treat muscle spasms and cramping caused by spinal injuries and CNS (central nervous system) diseases, such as ALS and multiple sclerosis. As an alpha adrenergic agonist, tizanidine already has the side effects of dizziness, drowsiness, and weakness. Caffeine has the effect of increasing the concentration of tizanidine in your blood, which in turn makes these side effects even more pronounced. In some cases, fainting occurred. This is a very serious interaction, so if you’re taking any meds with caffeine, let your doctor know, so they can find a work around.

Moderate Interactions:

Ciprofloxacin – Ciprofloxacin is a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections. This antibiotic has the side effect of making the effects of caffeine greater in your system. That means that if you take Cipro along with caffeine, the caffeine will have more of an effect on you. Irritability, sleeplessness, headaches, and nervousness are all possible.

Cymbalta (Duloxetine Hcl) – Cymbalta is used as an antidepressant and to treat nerve pain from diabetes, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pains in muscle tissue and bones. Cymbalta already has common side effects like nausea, insomnia, and dry mouth. Caffeine causes Duloxetine to rise beyond the desired levels, and greater side effects. Additionally, you can develop a larger risk of serotonin syndrome that can cause an entire host of other side effects.

Fluvoxamine – Fluvoxamine is sold under many different brand names (Faverin, Floxyfral, and Luvox, to name three) and is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). As an SSRI, it is used to treat anxiety and depression, as well as OCD. Fluvoxamine is like Cipro, in that it heightens the effects of caffeine, promoting agitation, restlessness, and nervousness, which can run counter to what Fluvoxamine is supposed to be treating.

Methotrexate – Methotrexate is used to treat several disorders, from autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, to use as a chemotherapy compound. Because methotrexate has such severe side effects, the dosages for treatment of autoimmune diseases is usually kept extremely low. Caffeine can actually inhibit the effectiveness of methotrexate, so if you are taking it, you should reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake.

Noroxin (norfloxacin) – Norfloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic that is used to treat urinary tract infections, prostate inflammation, and gonorrhea. Similar to other antibiotics, norfloxacin exacerbates the effects of caffeine when taken together. You might experience increased jitters, more nervousness, headaches, or increased heart rate. You’ll be better off if you don’t take any caffeine during the course of treatment.

Mild Interactions:

Valium (diazepam) – Diazepam is commonly prescribed as a sedative, so it shouldn’t be a shocker to know that taking caffeine (which is a stimulant) is completely counterproductive. Drinking coffee with valium is sort of like eating an entire cheesecake while you’re on an exercise bike. It might seem like a great idea at the time, but it’s a little counterproductive overall. The same goes for any sedative that you might be taking.

Bottom Line

Whenever you are given a new medication from your doctor, you should always discuss what medications you’re currently taking, so they can discuss possible interactions. After all, if one medication you take makes another one go completely off the rails, it can have a cascading effect that could be disastrous for your health.

LowestMed’s Health Information Center is meant for educational purposes and is not intended for medical advice. If you would like to recommend any story ideas, feel free to contact us.