Last week I had a cup of decaf in a local restaurant with lunch. About an hour later the pain hit me! It was in the upper abdomen and chest. I've had this reaction to restaurant coffee before, but it used to happen rarely and only last a few hours. Now it happens about a quarter of the time I drink restaurant coffee unless I stick to a tried-and-true eatery, and this time it lasted until bedtime and was so painful that when I got home, I went to bed and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. The next day I still felt some residual pain.
I decided to give up all coffee for a while to see what happens. So far so good -- and I actually feel less fatigue.
The Help for IBS site has an article that helps explain why even decaf causes problems.
...just one cup of coffee is all it takes to completely disrupt the gut of most people with IBS. Coffee is a very powerful GI tract irritant - and it's NOT the caffeine that's the culprit. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can aggravate IBS as well, but this just means that regular coffee has an awful double whammy.Since I am allergic to tea, I really hate giving up coffee. I may go back to having an occasional cup of mild-brand decaf at home after cold weather moves in. But the risk of drinking it in restaurants is no longer worth taking. Chest pain is scary as well as uncomfortable, and enduring it for over nine hours is something that I won't forget anytime soon.
Decaffeinated coffee is still practically guaranteed to trigger abdominal spasms, diarrhea, and a very unpleasant sense of urgency. Why? Because all coffee beans, decaf included, contain an enzyme that irritates the entire digestive tract.
...Coffee is also highly acidic, and acidic foods can aggravate IBS as well as upper GI disorders such as GERD.
By the way, I have not been diagnosed with IBS, but I do have a sensitive digestive system and a low tolerance for acidic foods.