10 Problems All Coffee Lovers Understand—and How to Fix Them

Your afternoon latte might seem like a lifesaver, but its actually wreaking havoc on your teeth, stomach and wallet.

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Stomach problems

Coffee lovers, is your daily mug of coffee making you rush for the bathroom? You might have to play detective to figure out if you need to blame the milk or the coffee itself. “While some actually welcome caffeine to help produce a bowel movement in the morning, the effects of caffeine as a stimulant on the bowels can cause cramping and bloating,” says Fiorella DiCarlo RD, CDN. “To lessen pain or cramps, one can try to avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach and drink it during or after breakfast.” Of course, the problem could be lactose intolerance: Find out by eliminating milk some mornings to see how you do.

Our experts answer: Is milk good for you?

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Trouble sleeping at night

Luckily for us java junkies, experts say drinking coffee is truly a healthy choice. Still, we have to exercise some common sense. “Coffee can be part of a healthy diet as long as it is in moderation—coffee contains antioxidants, increases cognitive skills in studies and contains minerals like magnesium and chromium which helps body use insulin that controls blood sugar,” says DiCarlo. But that 3 p.m. cup of office coffee can leave you tossing and turning all night long. “Try to stop drinking coffee between noon and 2 p.m. and keep in mind that it could take 10 hours for caffeine to oxidize out of the body.”

Here’s how much coffee you can drink before it gets dangerous.

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That iced coffee not doing it for you, all of a sudden? Consider the fact that when you’re used to sipping on coffee day after day, you might need more than a cup or two to achieve alertness. “The stimulatory effects of caffeine diminish in most people with continued use, so the initial increase in energy and alertness that follows caffeine ingestion becomes less pronounced with repeated use,” says Alan Gaby, MD, author of the textbook Nutritional Medicine. “The best thing people can do is to discontinue caffeine for a while and then use it only occasionally after that.” Learn more about the weird things that happen to your body when you switch from coffee to tea.

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If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you might experience that familiar headache sneaking up on you on the days you slept in late or decided to have orange juice instead of coffee at breakfast. Whether you avoided caffeine intentionally or not, withdrawal symptoms can sneak up on you immediately. If you’re experiencing extreme dizziness and nausea, you should visit your doctor, but mild withdrawal symptoms like crankiness are harmless albeit incredibly annoying. If you are weening yourself away from your caffeine addiction, you’ll be glad to know that the initial symptoms won’t last forever. “These symptoms usually resolve after a couple of days, and then people often feel better than before they were consuming caffeine regularly,” says Dr. Gaby.

Get to know more surprising headache causes.

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Like alcohol and sugar, everyone’s body reacts differently to caffeine. You might even feel perfectly normal one day and then experience anxiety, shakiness, and jitteriness the next. You might think that an extra cup of strong coffee will make up for a couple of lost hours of sleep, but loading up on caffeine when you’re tired can actually burn you out. Listen to your body and limit yourself to one or two cups if you experience shakiness or a racing heart.

Psst—drinking this much coffee a day can help burn fat.

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Stained teeth

“Over time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for a number of reasons and coffee is a major staining culprit,” explains Jim DiMarino, dentist and director of Medical Affairs in the Oral Care division at GSK Consumer Healthcare. “Coffee has intense colour pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth enamel when consumed frequently.” Several brands of toothpaste claim to help reduce the discolouration; Dr. DiMarino is naturally partial to his company’s version, ProNamel Strong & Bright Enamel, which advertises a dual action formulation to actively strengthen your acid-weakened enamel while polishing away stains.

Want to keep your pearly whites, well… Pearly white? This is exactly how long you need to brush your teeth.

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Bad breath

The smell of coffee brewing in the morning is easily one of the loveliest scents around. So why is it that after a couple of cups, your breath is one of the worst? (If your breath is persistently or unusually harsh, check out the12 things your breath could be trying to tell you.) Just don’t brush right away, warns Dr. DiMarino. Your tooth enamel will need at least 30 minutes to harden after being exposed to coffee acids.

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Budget conflicts

If you’re a coffee snob (or just an enthusiastic coffee lover), your costs can add up even if you know all the coffee brewing mistakes to avoid. Or you could spend up to $18 for a cup of coffee to have someone brew it for you. Either way, your daily dose could add up to a major chunk of your paycheque.

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Clothing stains

Spilled some coffee on your shirt on your way to the office? Before calling in late and making your way to the nearest mall, step into a grocery store and grab a bottle of club soda. Of all the well known coffee stain-removing remedies out there, club soda is one of the best at lifting that unwanted brown stain. Get to know more clever uses for club soda.

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Ruined keyboard

Knock over your cup of coffee on your keyboard or laptop, and you’ll have to act fast to prevent serious damage. According to Sourcit Technologies, you should remove the batteries from a wireless keyboard and turn it upside down for at least 24 hours to let it dry. If you’ve accidentally spilled coffee into your laptop keyboard, you’ll want to remove your laptop’s battery and tilt the laptop to drain liquid out from the inside. Just order another cup of coffee and try not to feel too bad—it happens to everyone.

Check out more expert advice on how to save your laptop after a spill.

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Burnt tongue

That cup was fuller than you thought: You inadvertently took a big sip of hot joe and now your tongue and mouth are burning. Quick, reach for some cold milk (2 per cent or regular), which will do two things: The cool liquid will soothe the pain, and the fats in milk will coat the tender areas, providing some protection. Check out more old time home remedies that actually work.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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