In this link


Take these steps to monitor your health while you stay home and practice social distancing:

Stay home, except to get medical care. Get rest and drink plenty of fluids.


  • Get rest and drink plenty of water or clear liquids. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine, such as sodas, tea, and coffee.



Why to avoid coffee?

And what would happen if I drink coffee?

What's the worst thing that could happen?

  • 1
    Just a thought: where I am (Europe) if you think you have covid-19 the recommendation is to be careful not to take so much medication that you don't realize if you get worse and need to go to the hospital. Taking caffeine (drink coffee) to counteract being tired because of being ill may be thought to come at a similar risk. (To be clear, I have no whatsoever source for this, and I'm not sure at all whether caffeine as drunk in usual coffee would actually be a sufficiently strong stimulant)
    – cbeleites
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 22:19
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX "if you think you have covid-19 the recommendation is to be careful not to take so much medication that you don't realize if you get worse and need to go to the hospital." I see, thank you for the info, I appreciated :) Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 1:02
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX Although I don't think I have Covid-19; if I have it, then I'm 100% asymptomatic. That's why I asked "If I get..." had I asked "I have..., can I still drink..." Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 1:02
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX "I'm not sure at all whether caffeine as drunk in usual coffee would actually be a sufficiently strong stimulant" that makes lot of sense. In any case that could count as a sign that something is not right in the immune system Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 1:04

4 Answers 4


At the very least, coffee (caffeine actually) can can have a complex interaction with pain medication.

Caffeine can actually enhance the pain-relief effects of some medications, like aspirin, which is why it's included in some "combo" OTC painkillers in some countries. (But if you take these regularly and drink caffeinated drinks too, you may well exceed the daily RDA for caffeine, 400mg/day according to the FDA.)


Oddly enough, what makes caffeine effective in pain relief can also cause headaches.

Since caffeine narrows the blood vessels that surround your brain, when you stop taking it they expand again, and that can cause pain.

I've also heard that if you don't take any pain meds, coffee will usually enhance your feeling of pain, but I can't find any (reliable) sources to back this up, even though in some circles it is recommended you don't drink caffeinated drinks when you have some (painful) medical (or quasi-medical e.g. tattoo, piercing, laser hair removal) procedures scheduled. YMMV. (Actually a 2018 paper found that habitual coffee drinkers have decreased sensitivity to pain.)

There are probably more aspects to consider including rigors and diuresis/sweating, both of which are probably modulated by caffeine.

WebMD says (in an MD-reviewed article):

These drinks won’t help you get over your cold or flu, and some could do more harm than good. [...]

  • Coffee. If you’re going to sip a hot drink, might as well get your daily dose of caffeine in it, right? Wrong. Try to stick with water and nutrient-rich soups.

But rather disappointing they don't offer any reasons why coffee should be avoided in this case, except that it is inferior to "nutrient-rich soups". But this seems hardly a flu-specific argument, i.e. you can't expect your diet to be just coffee anyway.

The CDC flu [patient] guide makes a similar recommendation:

If the sick person is not eating well, encourage them to drink liquids. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them such as colas, tea, and coffee.

While apparently no reason whatsoever for avoiding coffee is given in there, this is put under the "Tips to prevent dehydration" heading, so it's probably due to sweating/diuresis being enhanced by caffeine. This seems to be a really controversial topic, e.g. a Time mag article cites some experts saying otherwise, so it's probably better left for a separate question.

It’s true that caffeine is a mild diuretic, which means that it causes your kidneys to flush extra sodium and water from the body through urine. If you’re peeing frequently, and thus losing lots of liquid, it’s logical to think you could become dehydrated — but it actually doesn’t work that way, explains Dr. Daniel Vigil, an associate clinical professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles.

“When you drink a cup of coffee or you drink a glass of iced tea, you are necessarily taking in a volume of fluid along with that dose of [caffeine],” Vigil says. Even though caffeine is a mild diuretic, Vigil says, you won’t lose more fluid through urine than you take in by drinking a caffeinated beverage. Your body is able to absorb as much fluid as it needs and expel the rest, he says.

Some studies seem to back up this latter view, but they involve healthy individuals.


To some people, caffeine is a diuretic.

You want to stay as hydrated as possible during any illness to give the body what it needs and promote a fast recovery. Since caffeine is a diuretic (to some people), it is unwise to consume liquids containing caffeine as a means for hydrating oneself.

Edit: As a direct answer to the question, if you are ill, you may still imbibe your daily coffee, however it would be wise to find your main means of hydration in non-caffeinated sources (like water, decaf, juice, etc)

  • I don't think I'm in the 'diuretic team' but in any case, as you say, I could be hydrated again when drinking other type of liquids. Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 1:23

A search on Pubmed, and Google has found no data to support the assertion from the Viriginia Government that coffee drinking is deleterious to your health when you have the Covid-19. Unless they provide a reference I believe it is a myth.

I used search terms such as covid-19, caffeine, sars, sars-cov-2.

Consider also that 25-50% of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have no symptoms so how exactly is one supposed to follow this "advice"?


  • Thank you for your answer. I liked a lot the part "Unless they provide a reference I believe it is a myth." :) Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 1:09

Similarly to Graham Chiu, I could not find any relevant articles on PubMed. I performed searches linking viral disease and caffeine, but most were related to viral hepatitis. Instead, I decided to address the question more broadly by investigating how caffeine affects the immune response. In short, caffeine suppresses immune signalling, meaning it is an anti-inflammatory, and is either helpful or harmful depending on your perspective.

Smith et al. (1997) recommend the opposite in their article "Caffeine and the common cold" after reporting benefit in psychomotor performance associated with the common cold.

Horrigan et al. (2006) found supression of neutrophil and monocyte chemical-directed movement, and lower levels of cytokines (e.g., TNF-a, IL-2, IFN, etc). They report supression of T lymphocyte activity and, as a consequence, antibody production by B lymphocytes - further supporting its role as an anti-inflammatory.

Dulson & Bishop (2016) found that caffeine does not effect activation of lymphocytes.

Al Reef & Ghanem (2018) report that caffeine suppresses the immune system by: preventing the replication of lymphocytes, supressing immune signalling (e.g., TNF-a, IL-2), and expression of immune receptors (e.g., the TLR family and MHC I); also high doses of caffeine impair macrophages and NK cells activity.

While it does suppress the immune system for a brief time this can provide benefits like relief from fever and pain, after all this is the same mechanism by which more commonly used drugs like paracetamol work.

Finally I would would like to show you this fascinating article from Wang et al. (2016) who investigated the immune effects of fasting on bacterial and viral illness. (As you know, fasting has potent anti-inflammatory effects.) They found that fasting was beneficial in bacterial illness but detrimental in viral infection.

I will leave you to draw your own conclusion from that, stay healthy!


Al Reef, T & Ghanem, E 2018, 'Caffeine: Well-known as psychotropic substance, but little as immunomodulator', Immunobiology, vol. 223, no. 12, Dec, pp. 818-25.

Dulson, DK & Bishop, NC 2016, 'Effect of a high and low dose of caffeine on human lymphocyte activation in response to antigen stimulation', Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, vol. 41, no. 2, Feb, pp. 224-7.

Horrigan, LA, Kelly, JP & Connor, TJ 2006, 'Immunomodulatory effects of caffeine: friend or foe?', Pharmacol Ther, vol. 111, no. 3, Sep, pp. 877-92.

Smith, A, Thomas, M, Perry, K & Whitney, H 1997, 'Caffeine and the common cold', J Psychopharmacol, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 319-24.

Wang, A, Huen, SC, Luan, HH, Yu, S, Zhang, C, Gallezot, J-D, Booth, CJ & Medzhitov, R 2016, 'Opposing Effects of Fasting Metabolism on Tissue Tolerance in Bacterial and Viral Inflammation', Cell, vol. 166, no. 6, pp. 1512-25.e12.

  • Could you explain in easy-to-follow terms the paragram of Al Reef & Ghanem (2018), specially the high dose part? Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 18:44

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