Caffeine and Dry Heaves

The dry heaves, or retching, is a gastrointestinal disturbance similar to vomiting, but without emptying the stomach's contents. Dry heaves often precede or follow vomiting, but in some cases, they can occur on their own. For example, excessive caffeine can cause gastrointestinal upset in some people. Consult your physician if you are having frequent dry heaves.


Dry heaves involve spasmodic contractions of the abdomen. Unlike vomiting, the contents of your stomach enter the esophagus, but do not proceed into the pharynx when you dry-heave. Dry heaves can have many different causes. Any illness or condition that causes nausea can also cause dry heaves, such as:

  • food poisoning
  • alcohol intoxication
  • pregnancy
  • motion sickness
  • migraine headaches

In some cases, strong, unpleasant odors cause dry heaves, or retching. After vomiting, some people experience dry heaves because their gag reflex remains active despite their stomach being empty.


Caffeine is widely consumed throughout the world by both children and adults. It is a drug naturally found in certain plants that can influence your mood and behavior. Dietary sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. Low dietary doses of caffeine can produce an increase in alertness, arousal and social feelings. Caffeine can also cause withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, irritability and headaches. Larger doses of caffeine can produce anxiety, insomnia, restlessness and upset stomach.

Caffeine Intoxication

Excessive caffeine can produce a significant reaction known as caffeine intoxication. The amount of caffeine needed to trigger symptoms of excessive caffeine consumption varies depending on your tolerance. However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders says any amount above 250 milligrams per day can lead to intoxication.


Although large doses of caffeine might cause dry heaves, other illnesses and conditions can also be responsible. If you are experiencing dry heaves, consult your physician to rule out any other underlying causes. Reduce your caffeine intake if you have noticed symptoms of caffeine intoxication. A typical brewed cup of coffee contains 100 milligrams of caffeine so after a couple cups, you might notice symptoms. Be aware of the products you take that might contain caffeine, as it can be found in some surprising sources, including energy drinks, diet pills and over-the-counter pain relievers.