A patient recently asked whether caffeine is bad for their rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here’s a detailed look at this common concern.

Caffeine and RA Progression

To begin with, is caffeine bad for the actual progression or prognosis of rheumatoid arthritis? There is no evidence to suggest that caffeine will worsen RA, lead to a worse prognosis, cause more joint erosions, or increase disability. From the perspective of the condition itself, caffeine should not be bad for RA.

Caffeine and RA Medications

Another important consideration is the impact of caffeine on medications used for RA, such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic medications. These immunosuppressive drugs do not seem to be negatively affected by caffeine. There’s no evidence that caffeine impacts the efficacy or absorption of these medications.

Gastrointestinal Concerns

A potential caveat is that oral medications for RA can irritate the stomach and sometimes cause nausea. Depending on your caffeine intake and tolerance, caffeine can either worsen or improve these gastrointestinal symptoms. Thus, caffeine might influence how you tolerate some medications.

Caffeine and Steroids

High doses of steroids (e.g., prednisone, cortisone, methylprednisolone, solumedrol) can elevate heart rates and, in rare cases, cause arrhythmias. Similarly, high caffeine intake can also increase heart rates and arrhythmia risk. This is something to consider if you are taking high doses of steroids, as combining these can amplify the risk.

Cardiovascular Health

RA patients have higher rates of heart disease due to chronic inflammation and metabolic risks. Caffeine is present in various forms, including coffee, tea, soda, and sugary drinks. It’s important to be cautious with sugary drinks, as they are not beneficial for cardiac and metabolic health. For RA patients, managing overall metabolic health and cardiac risk is crucial.


In summary, caffeine is generally okay for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Just be mindful of consuming it alongside high doses of steroids or in the form of sugary, unhealthy drinks.


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