Caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea and soft drinks containing caffeine, dehydrate the body (they pull water out of your system). Water is precious to the hepatitis patient. Your body needs water to flush out toxins that the hepatitis-compromised liver cannot metabolise.
Caffeine can also cause the loss of valuable nutrients, resulting in decreased levels of potassium and calcium, which are essential for heart muscle function and may cause tachycardia (rapid heart rate) or arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Caffeine intake can also result in decreased levels of vitamin B and C, magnesium, zinc and iron.
Caffeine is processed through the liver, metabolised, then eliminated from the body by the kidneys. However, caffeine metabolism is drastically slowed in cirrhosis. This slowing will cause the hepatitis patient to retain a higher caffeine concentration in the blood. Some tests for hepatitis measure the level of caffeine in your blood as an indicator of hepatic (liver) function because fasting caffeine levels are elevated in cirrhosis.
Caffeine can cause people with hepatitis to suffer from many unwanted side effects to the body’s system such as: headaches, nervousness, fatigue, diarrhoea, vertigo, urinary concentration and frequency, heartburn, insomnia, anxiety and overall restlessness.
Caffeine intake increases your body’s production of stomach acid and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). High amounts of caffeine intake (or daily caffeine in liver compromised patients) can increase the risk of stomach or gastrointestinal complications, as well as anxiety and other physiological and neurological problems.
Hepatitis patients who are being treated for chronic fatigue, ulcers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gastritis, adrenal exhaustion, migraines, depression, insomnia, or psychological conditions are at risk for detrimental effects from caffeine.
Caffeine intake totals (in all forms) should be very limited, for nutritional well being, as well as your liver’s health.
Bullock & Rosenthal, 1994, Pathophysiology, Adaptations & Alterations in Function 3rd Edition, (published by Lippincott) Pages: 80, 271, 831-832, 808-818, 220-222, 179, 185-187, 189-190.
Hepatitis Alert, Vol. II, No. 2 Summer 1996 (published by the Hepatitis Foundation Intl.) citing article by Stuart C. Gordon, MD of William Beaumont Hospital, Michigan. Digestive Diseases (1996;14:157-168).
“The Snake Fighter”: Laurie, “A Hepatitis C Lifestyle” Available: http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Vila/2630/lifestyle.html
HepNet: Cari Nierenberg, Diet & Liver Disease-“Be in Charge: Chapter 8” Available: http//www.hepnet.com/charge/chap8.html
From Good Liver, Newsletter for Hepatitis Victoria (Hepatitis C Council of Victoria), Autumn 2000
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