How Does Caffeine Poisoning Happen?
Caffeine is a substance that occurs naturally in many plants’ leaves and seeds. We can also artificially manufacture caffeine and add it to certain foods and drinks. It’s considered a stimulating substance because it activates the central nervous system, increasing the level of alertness.
Caffeine is found in tea, coffee, many sports drinks, painkillers, and other over-the-counter medications. In its natural form, caffeine has a very bitter taste. However, most caffeinated beverages are processed enough to disguise its bitter taste.
Caffeine gives most people an “injection” of energy, something like a “high“. It can improve mood for a temporary period of time. However, others don’t get that high from caffeine and choose to stop consuming it.
On the other hand, many people feel that caffeine increases our level of alertness. Moderation is the secret to caffeine. However, high doses of caffeine can cause anxiety, dizziness, headaches, and nervousness. Caffeine can also interfere with our normal sleep pattern and make our body disregard our biological sleep rhythm.
Caffeine can become addictive
Most professionals agree that caffeine is safe when consumed in moderation. Experts state that between 200 mg and 300 mg is considered a moderate amount of caffeine for an adult.
However, consuming only 100 mg of caffeine each day can make a person develop a dependency. This means that you can develop withdrawal symptoms (such as tiredness, irritability, and headaches) if you suddenly stop consuming caffeine.
The caffeine that we consume comes from varying sources such as coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medicine, energy supplements, weight loss drugs, and chocolate.
Manufacturers are increasingly using caffeine as an additive to vitamins and food products. More than 85% of children and adults consume caffeine regularly. This explains why some caffeine users show symptoms that are similar to problematic substance use, including tolerance and abstinence.
We characterize caffeine poisoning by the recent consumption of caffeine in conjunction with five or more signs or symptoms. These symptoms develop during or shortly after caffeine consumption.
The symptoms of caffeine poisoning are: agitation, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, facial flushing, diuresis, and gastrointestinal discomfort. In addition, these symptoms can appear with low caffeine doses in vulnerable individuals, such as children, the elderly, or people who aren’t regularly exposed to caffeine.
Symptoms that usually appear after consuming over 1 gram of caffeine per day are: muscle spasms, thought and speech ramblings, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, periods of restlessness, and psychomotor agitation.
Caffeine intoxication may not occur if you have a high tolerance to the substance. For a caffeine intoxication diagnosis, signs and symptoms should cause significant discomfort or deterioration in social, occupational, and other important areas in our lives.
In addition, signs and symptoms shouldn’t be attributable to other medical conditions. They also shouldn’t be better explained by another mental disorder or intoxication with another substance. The criterion that we’ve cited comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Moderation is key
Like everything else in life, moderation is key. Sensory disturbances (eg. ringing in the ears and flashing lights) can occur with high caffeine doses.
Although large doses of caffeine can increase heart rate, smaller doses can decrease it. Scientists haven’t yet discerned whether excessive caffeine consumption can cause headaches.
Upon physical examination, you can see agitation, restlessness, sweating, tachycardia, facial redness, and increased intestinal motility. As we have stated, moderating your caffeine consumption is the key.
How can I quit my caffeine addiction?
Caffeine has a half-life of approximately 4-6 hours. Therefore, the symptoms of caffeine poisoning usually go away within the first few days and don’t have any known lasting consequences.
However, people who consume high doses of caffeine (eg. 5 to 10 grams) may require medical attention. Such high doses can be lethal. With age, individuals tend to have increasingly intense reactions to caffeine.
The main complaints of caffeine poisoning are sleep interference and feelings of hyperactivity. Researchers have observed caffeine intoxication in young people after they consumed products with high caffeine content. These include energy drinks.
Children and adolescents may be at an increased risk of poisoning due to several factors. Among these, their low weight, lack of tolerance, and little knowledge about the pharmacological effects of caffeine put them at extra risk.
In conclusion, don’t underestimate the power of caffeine. Consume it in moderation. Caffeine poisoning can cause deterioration in our personal and professional lives. It can hinder your work or school performance and can also hinder your ability to regulate emotions or comply with obligations.