When is the onset of caffeine withdrawal symptoms?

Updated: Jun 14, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, CPE, MHCM, FAAPL  more...
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Withdrawal symptoms generally begin 12-24 hours after sudden cessation of caffeine consumption and reach a peak after 20-48 hours. In some individuals, however, these symptoms can appear within only 3-6 hours and can last for 1 week.

Withdrawal symptoms do not relate to the quantity of caffeine ingested daily. For example, Strain et al showed that withdrawal symptoms occur in individuals consuming 129-2548 mg/day of caffeine. [19] Some investigators have suggested that caffeine withdrawal symptoms (but not caffeine abuse or dependence) should be added to the list of diagnoses recognized by the American Health System. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,Fifth Edition (DSM-5) does include caffeine-related disorders in the substance-related and addictive disorders chapter. [20]

Caffeine consumption, fasting, and preoperative and postoperative headaches are strongly correlated. For every 100-mg increase in the usual daily consumption of caffeine (equivalent to about 1 more cup of coffee), the risk of headache immediately before and after surgery is increased by 12% and 16%, respectively. [21] The risk can be reduced by drinking caffeine or taking caffeine tablets on the day of the procedure. Thus, permitting caffeine users who are undergoing minor surgical procedures to ingest caffeine preoperatively may be advisable.

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