caffeine overdose

Caffeine Overdose: Is This Possible?

April 4, 2019

“Life starts after coffee” – that’s the motto of others who cannot go on with their day without having a sip of their favorite coffee. Coffee has been a part of our days. According to The National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America annual survey of 2017, over 50% of Americans consume coffee every day. That is equivalent to over 150 million people.

Are you one of those coffee drinkers included in the statistics? If you are, have you ever experienced having a headache, upset stomach, or difficulty in breathing after consuming your favorite cup of coffee? Those might be symptoms of caffeine overdose.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a substance that stimulates the brain to have an extra boost and stay alert. It is not only found in coffee, but also in cocoa beans, tea leaves, energy drinks, carbonated drinks, and other supplements. It is considered as a drug because of its stimulating property.

The table below from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows the caffeine content of some drinks, foods, and supplements that you might be consuming.

Drink, Food, or Supplement Amount Amount of Caffeine
7-Up 12 oz 0 mg
Brewed Coffee 5 oz 115 mg*
Chocolate Milk Beverage 8 oz 5 mg*
Coca-Cola 12 oz 34 mg*
Cocoa Beverage 5 oz 4 mg*
Dark Chocolate 1 oz 20 mg*
Diet Coke 12 oz 45 mg
Iced Tea 12 oz 70 mg*
Monster Energy Drink 16 oz 160 mg
Mountain Dew 12 oz 55 mg
Pepsi 12 oz 38 mg
Red Bull Energy Drink 8.3 oz 80 mg

*denotes average amount of caffeine

Is Caffeine Good For Our Body?

Have you ever tried drinking coffee at night because you need to stay up to do your requirements lining up?

One of the benefits of caffeine is to help us in staying focused and alert. It blocks the adenosine – one of the hypnogenic molecules in our body which causes us to feel sleepy and in need of rest after staying awake for a long period—which causes us to stay awake after drinking a cup of coffee and other beverages with caffeine.

Aside from its aid in alertness, a research in Japan showed that caffeine can help boost our memory. This would lead to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Doctors suggest that the normal amount of caffeine intake is 250 mg a day for adults. Exceeding this level may lead to caffeine overdose.

Caffeine Overdose

34 students from Concord Technical Institute (Cebu City, Philippines) were rushed to the hospital on September 2016. The said students experienced abdominal pain, heart palpitation, headache and vomiting.

These students experienced caffeine overdose after drinking three to four bottles of free iced coffee promoted in their school. The average amount of caffeine to be taken by teenagers (ages 12 to 18) is only 70 mg per day. The iced coffee that was promoted in their school contained 115 mg of caffeine per bottle.

Caffeine overdose is the effect of consuming caffeine more than the suggested amount. Symptoms vary depending on the caffeine tolerance of your body. The following are the symptoms of caffeine overdose.

  • Jitters
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nervousness
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vomiting
  • Diseases
  • Sweating
  • Dehydration

Too much caffeine may lead to heart disease, chronic kidney disease, or worst—death. There were number of death cases and chronic diseases due to caffeine overdose.

  1. In 2013, a woman from New Zealand died from heart palpitations or cardiac arrhythmia. She is allegedly consuming 10 liters of Coca-Cola a day. That is equivalent to 900 to 1000 mg of caffeine.
  2. In 2014, a 14-year-old boy from Norway had a kidney failure due to drinking four liters of an energy drink with caffeine and played for 16 hours straight. That would be equivalent to 1,280 mg of caffeine.
  3. In 2017, 17-year-old waitress from UK had caffeine overdose after drinking 7 double espressos. She was rushed to the hospital and luckily was able to recover after consuming that 1,078 mg of caffeine.
    When you start experiencing one or more of the symptoms, you might need to slow down your caffeine intake.

Caffeine Withdrawal

Have you ever experienced trying not to drink your favorite cup of coffee or tea? Then you feel like you are having a headache because of it? You might be experiencing caffeine withdrawal. Zero caffeine consumption will be difficult if it has been part of your daily routine. That is why others who are trying to lessen or avoid caffeine are experiencing caffeine withdrawal.

Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are almost the same with caffeine overdose: headache, nausea, jitters, nervousness, and vomiting. Caffeine withdrawal is experienced between two to nine days after cutting off caffeine in your system.

Therefore, if you experience the symptoms listed above, don’t worry and don’t try to take caffeine again. It is normal. Caffeine withdrawal is the time wherein the body’s adenosine is starting to go back to its normal function. If you take caffeine again during this period, it will stop the procedure and you will probably experience the same again if you decided to stop taking caffeine.

Removing caffeine in your system is not done in one snap; it is a gradual process.

Caffeine Alternatives

Whenever you are craving for coffee, tea, or chocolates, it is not the food itself that you are craving for, it is the caffeine. Caffeine is addicting, that is why it is difficult to remove it from your system.

If you feel like you are consuming too much caffeine and wants to cut it gradually. Here are some alternatives that others have tried.

1. Water

Instead of drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, try changing it into water. In that way, you won’t be dehydrated. Then whenever you are craving for your favorite soda or beverages, drink water instead.

2. Peppermint Tea

Instead of drinking green leaf tea or black leaf tea, try changing it into peppermint tea. Others claim that it is refreshing and does not have much caffeine as the other mentioned tea.

3. Berries

If you are craving for chocolate or something sweet, it will be better to eat berries to avoid consuming caffeine.

Caffeine is difficult to cut off, but with discipline and knowledge about caffeine it will be possible.

caffeine overdose