Of the harmful foods and drinks that we put into our body, coffee or caffeine is definitely one of them and is no doubt a silent killer if taken in large doses. One or two cups of coffee a day is good to get your metabolism going in the morning as well as wake you up for another long day at work. But of course too much of anything is bad for health and too much of coffee or caffeine in the body has its repercussions. Caffeine overdose has become a serious issue nowadays especially after the tragic death of 16-year-old Davis Allen Cripe from South Carolina.
David had consumed many caffeinated drinks in a couple of hours such as a large Mountain Dew, a caffe latte and another energy drink in a span of two hours and died of a heart attack at his school. This tragic event led to David’s parents wanting to educate others on the seriousness of a caffeine overdose and the vast difference between having just one or two cups of coffee and an excessively large amount of caffeinated drinks.
So What Exactly Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a psychoactive and stimulating substance that naturally occurs in many kinds of plants and is a type of drug. The tea leaf and the coffee bean plant are the two most common caffeine-producing plants. Caffeine helps you wake up in the morning even if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep by tricking the brain into thinking that it has rested well even though it hasn’t. Caffeine enters the brain and camouflages as adenosine which is the chemical that tells the brain to go to sleep. So even though you may not be well rested your nerve and brain activity doesn’t slow down.
Caffeine affects the rest of the body as well. Since the caffeine stimulates the brain to over function this stimulates the nervous system to work overtime too and releases excess amounts of adrenaline in the body. Every nerve in the body is fired up and the heart beats much faster than normal which makes the blood circulate faster in the body too.
How Much Is Too Much Caffeine?
Doctors agree that a small amount of coffee every day won’t do you any harm and some amount of caffeine in the body keeps the heart healthy. However, there are some limits to the amount of caffeine that you can have in a day. Adults should ideally not have more than 4 cups of coffee in a day and should stick to 2 cups a day to be on the safer side. This is according to the Washington Post.
But it is harder to suggest the appropriate amount of other caffeinated drinks that is safe to have such as energy drinks and other carbonated and caffeinated drinks. However, one drink should not exceed 400 milligrams of caffeine. Teenagers should not have more than 100 milligrams of caffeine in one day and young kids should not have caffeine at all.
Very few people know how to recognize the deadly symptoms of a caffeine overdose. How do you know when it is too much? How do you know when you have had a caffeine overdose?
Here are a few of the symptoms to tell you that you might have a caffeine overdose –
– Nervousness and Jitters – having too much coffee according to the FDA can leave you very nervous, jumpy and jittery. You might have trigger reflexes or shaky hands, feelings of anxiety or a nervous trembling sensation.
– Nausea and Dizziness – According to the Palmetto Poison Center consuming caffeine in excess quantities can cause dizziness and nausea, seizures and a loose stomach too. Caffeine can cause the digestive system to become weak because it increases metabolism and stimulates the digestive tract and the colon to make bowels move faster.
– Sleeplessness – having a cup of coffee later in the day can cause you to stay awake for hours on end and might not let you sleep at night. Caffeine stays in your system for as long as 24 hours so it’s important to have your morning cup of coffee as early as possible to avoid insomnia at night.
– Elevated heart rate and palpitations – another symptom that you might have a caffeine overdose is an elevated heart rate. Caffeine stimulates your heart rate but it need not be deadly all the time if you don’t have a history of cardiac problems. Similarly, irregular heartbeats or palpitations might not hurt you if you don’t have preexisting heart conditions. But for people who have a history of heart problems taking too much caffeine in the form of pills or drinks will stimulate heart activity and can cause a massive heart attack.
What Should You Do If You Suspect a Caffeine Overdose?
If you’ve had a mild caffeine overdose that has left you with just a jittery feeling and trembling shaky hands, then you need not worry and should just wait for it to wear off on its own. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid more caffeine for the next 48 hours till your system is completely rid of the caffeine.
But if you suspect a stronger case of caffeine overdose then you must visit a doctor immediately or seek medical attention. You might be administered charcoal to get you to vomit out the caffeine and your heart rate will be monitored closely to watch for any abnormalities. Also, it is important to share the negative effects of caffeine with your close family and friends so that they can be aware and careful too.