Up to 90% of adult Americans consume caffeine every day. Most commonly, the caffeine is in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. This adds up to an average of about 280 mg of caffeine per day, or the equivalent of about two cups of coffee. Many people who consume caffeine on a regular basis report that they experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms when this popular stimulant is withdrawn, similar to the symptoms felt with the withdrawal of other addictive substances.
The terms “caffeine addiction” and “caffeine dependence” are commonly used, but to date, there is not scientific proof that caffeine meets the criteria to induce a complete addiction. Several case studies, however, have shown that caffeine was able to induce a clinical dependence similar to that induced by other psychoactive drugs in some people. There is also a lack of scientific evidence to show that severe side effects are associated with stopping caffeine use.
Despite the debate over whether true caffeine addiction is possible, “caffeine withdrawal” is a known clinical condition with predictable symptoms. Caffeine withdrawal occurs in some people who regularly consume caffeine when their consumption is suddenly halted. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University confirmed that withdrawal symptoms can occur even when small amounts (corresponding to about one cup of coffee per day) of caffeine are consumed. In a review of 170 years of caffeine research, the Hopkins team examined 57 separate studies and found that the features of caffeine withdrawal can vary from mild mood changes to systemic, flu-like symptoms. The major types of caffeine withdrawal reactions were identified as
- headache, fatigue, or drowsiness;
- depressed, irritable mood;
- difficulty concentrating;
- flu-like symptoms of nausea and/or vomiting;
- and muscle pain or stiffness.
The withdrawal symptoms typically began 12-24 hours after the last dose of caffeine, became most severe after one to two days, and lasted for two to nine days.
If you want to cut down on caffeine, experts advise doing so slowly. Decrease your consumption gradually over a period of days (or weeks, if you’re a heavy consumer) to avoid being plagued by withdrawal symptoms.
CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW
- Guide to Caffeine Dependence and Abuse
- Caffeine Detox: How to Quit Caffeine and Break the Addiction
- Two Methods for Quitting Caffeine
- A Personal Caffeine Detox Story
- Other Tips to Break Caffeine Addiction
- How to Kick Your Caffeine Dependence for Good
- How can you tell if you’re dependent on caffeine?
- How can you beat caffeine dependence?
- Thank you!
- Is caffeine dependence even that bad?
- What is caffeine?
- How caffeine affects the body:
- Side effects:
- Effects of quitting:
- Caffeine during pregnancy:
- Caffeine contents:
- More information:
Guide to Caffeine Dependence and Abuse
Caffeine is one of the most researched substances in the world. It has many benefits, however too much caffeine can also be harmful. It all comes down to moderation, yet the more we consume the more tolerance our bodies build and so the potential of caffeine addiction and abuse increases.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that causes dependency, but the effects are milder than with illicit drugs and alcohol. Users can have health problems and there are withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it, but normally it does not bring direct, serious social or financial harm.
The immediate effects of caffeine include increased alertness, concentration, energy, clarity and congeniality. These effects can be beneficial in some situations, such as temporary demands for increased productivity or wakefulness, provided that usage is kept within reasonable bounds.
The problem is that your brain quickly adapts to the artificial stimulation of caffeine and stops generating some of its own chemicals. When you stop taking caffeine, the brain can not immediately restart its own natural processes, leaving you in distress. Your body also develops tolerance, meaning that, over time, you must take ever more caffeine to get the same result. These factors define addictive drugs, but most of us see caffeine as just a habit or, at worst, a quirky dependency.
Moderate volumes (around 200mg), taken during the earlier part of the day, do not pose a physical threat, unless you already have high blood pressure, heart problems or anxiety. However, taking caffeine within three hours of going to bed will interfere with normal sleep to some degree.
It is a myth that caffeine helps intoxicated people to sober up or that it improve their reflexes. It does keep them awake for longer, but it has been found that caffeine actually causes more accidents if taken while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
No matter how, where or when you use it, caffeine is at least mildly addictive and, mild or not, abuse can cause problems. Lately, it has also become somewhat frowned upon by a better informed public and many users want to stop using it, but find it exceedingly hard to break free.
Caffeine does not have the same chemical properties as illicit stimulants or alcohol, but it is very dangerous to take them at the same time. They all have identical, potentially fatal side-effects, like excessive pulse rate, blood pressure and dehydration, and mixing them can lead to overdosing. In fact, mixing caffeine with any drug is never a good idea, as one can never be sure of the interaction between them.
Sources of caffeine
The most common sources of caffeine:
- Coffee, tea and cocoa beans
- Tobacco products
- Chocolates and some other candies
- Diet and pain medications
- Cold and flu medicines
- Energy and health bars
- Energy drinks
- Fizzy cool drinks
- Some ice creams
Note: Some of these are available as caffeine-free or decaffeinated products under certain brand names. Caffeine-free is not the same as decaffeinated. Decaffeinated products still contain a small percentage of caffeine.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine. They can be roughly divided into three groups:
- Hypersensitive: People who react to small amounts of caffeine (100mg or less) with unpleasant responses like nervousness, rapid pulse and sleeplessness.
- Normal sensitivity: People who consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day before feeling any discomfort. They fall asleep quite easily, provided they took the last dose at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Hyposensitive: A small group of people who can take very high doses (more than 400mg) of caffeine and feel almost no effect at all. They can take caffeine right before bedtime and fall asleep without a problem.
Symptoms of caffeine abuse
Typical symptoms of caffeine abuse include:
- Mental and physical hyperactivity
- Tolerance (taking larger doses to get the same effect)
- Withdrawal (cravings a few hours after the last intake)
- Inability to stop taking caffeinated products
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Anxiety, nervousness, irritability
- Constricted cerebral blood vessels
- Increased blood pressure
- Upset stomach, dehydration
- Weight gain (if using food/eating stimulants)
- Weight loss (if using metabolic/dietary stimulants)
- Calcium and magnesium loss
- Possible adverse pregnancy effects
First thing in the morning, some people head straight for that first cup of coffee, first cigarette or whatever their caffeine of choice may be. They are not only driven by force of habit, but also by a need to curb the withdrawal symptoms that had been building while they were sleeping. Their reward is a state of electrifying caffeine intoxication.
These are the major signs of caffeine intoxication:
- Energy boost
- Impulsive behaviour
Caffeine elevates your energy and your brain responds with pleasure signals, but it comes at a price. Although the body quickly assumes a satisfactory state of intoxication, it deflates equally fast when the caffeine wears off. Then you can expect a heavy withdrawal backlash. It can even be unpleasant while the intoxication lasts, not to mention the anxiety when you do not have your preferred source of caffeine on hand when you need it.
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms start within 12 to 24 hours after the last dosage and last up to two weeks. This is a long period of discomfort during a very sensitive stage and the main reason why users find it difficult to stop on their own.
The withdrawal systems include the following:
- Headache, decreased alertness
- Drowsiness (or, otherwise, insomnia)
- Poor concentration, blurred thoughts
- Cold / flu symptoms (runny nose, etc)
- Muscle cramps, stiffness, inactivity
- Lethargy, low energy, weakness
- Irritability, anxiety, depression
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation
- Dizziness, unsteadiness
- Palpitations, low blood pressure
Withdrawal symptoms may only last a few days to a week for light caffeine consumers however can last two months or more for people that have been taking around 1000 mg or more daily.
Even for heavy consumers of caffeine the worst of the symptoms will subside following about a week’s detox.
Caffeine Overdose Symptoms
Some of the overdose symptoms for caffeine include the following:
- Rapid pulse
- Heart failure
In caffeine overdose cases patients are often administered activated charcoal, frequently used in ingested drug overdoses. The charcoal helps to prevent the caffeine from entering the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Caffeine that has already entered the patients system then may not be viable to use the charcoal and laxative or even a gastric lavage can be administered by a medical professional to expunge potentially lethal doses of caffeine. It is important to consult a medical professional as quickly as possible with any suspected overdose case.
Caffeine Content in Everyday Products
There are many other foods, beverages, and medications that surprisingly contain significant volumes of caffeine. While none of the items in the list below individually contain a lot of caffeine, used in combination with other caffeine sources they can contribute to the daily intake volume of caffeine. Here is a list of foods that contains caffeine.
- Headache Remedies
- PMS Medications
- Weight-loss pills
- Hot Cocoa
- Energy water
- Alcoholic energy drinks
- Breath fresheners
- Breakfast Cereals
- Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt
- Decaffeinated Coffee
- Sports drinks
- Chewing Gum
- Energy bars
- Herbal Supplements
10 Steps to Ease Caffeine Withdrawal
- Know your ingredients. Understand the ingredients of the foods & drinks you consume frequently keep an eye out for caffeine products.
- Decrease your consumption over time. Plan to remove caffeine from your diet in stages. Caffeine is addictive and the withdraw symptoms outlined above.
- Water down drinks that contain caffeine.
- Switch to herbal tea or to decaf coffee, water or fruit juices.
- Be aware of caffeine intakes and where possible.
- When in doubt tea.
- Order smaller cups.
- Alternate between caffeine and non caffeine containing products
- Check your pain reliever.
- Many over-the-counter medications, contain caffeine, switch to one that doesn’t.
How To Tell If You Are Addicted to Caffeine
- Do you consume more caffeinated beverages than you do water?
- Do you have a caffeinated beverage daily?
- Do you take caffeine pills if drinking a caffeinated beverage isn’t possible?
- Do you get a headache if you haven’t had caffeine by lunchtime?
- Do you plan your day around getting your caffeine fix?
- Do you consume at least 500mg of caffeine daily? (i.e. 4-5 coffees or 3 energy drinks)
- Do you get irritable or impatient if you haven’t had your morning caffeine dose?
- Do you spend at least 25 dollars a week on caffeinated products?
- Do you use caffeine instead of sleep?
- Does your current caffeine consumption no longer give you a boost, but just a feeling of normal?
Treatment for caffeine addiction
Recovering from caffeine dependency is not as easy as most people think. Studies have found that more than 90 percent of users get caffeine withdrawals. More than 80 percent actually try to stop, but are not able to either stop or reduce it on their own.
However, with professional help, you can get over it. Unlike in the past, reputable modern rehab centres are acutely aware of the complexities of caffeine addiction. They now offer advanced therapies that will enable you to overcome it, but you need to take the first step by phoning the number at the top of this page. Trained therapists are available for advice or personal interviews.
Caffeine Detox: How to Quit Caffeine and Break the Addiction
A caffeine detox may be needed for many reasons and some of those could include:
- Caffeine may no longer have the same effects it once had.
- Daily caffeine consumption amounts are out of control.
- Caffeine consumption is leading to health problems.
- Doctor’s orders.
Whichever the reason, quitting caffeine isn’t easy since most people develop a strong dependence on the daily dose; both physically and mentally.
There are generally two ways to detox from caffeine and we describe each of those methods below.
Two Methods for Quitting Caffeine
1. The Weaning Method (Recommended)
With this method, instead of quitting caffeine all at once, a person gradually reduces the amount of caffeine he/she is consuming daily.
This can be approximated by hand, or done precisely with a product like the Wean Caffeine detox kit.
We recommend stepping down the dose about 10-30 mg less every three days until a zero daily caffeine amount is achieved. This can be accomplished by just drinking a little less of your typical caffeinated beverage but with Wean Caffeine it is a much more precise and systematic process.
- Coffee should be reduced by a 1/4 of a cup every two to three days. (This is difficult if you don’t make coffee at home.)
- Energy Drinks can be reduced by about 1/4 a can every two to three days.
- Soda can be reduced by cutting back a 1/2 a can every two to three days or by a 1/4 a bottle if drinking a 16 fl oz size.
- Tea can be reduced by cutting back 1/2 cup every two to three days.
- Withdrawal symptoms are much less severe or can be completely avoided.
- Most people can continue to function and be productive.
- Mild to no caffeine headache to deal with.
- Less shocking to the system.
- Can take longer to detox depending on the beginning daily dose amount.
- Requires tracking caffeine and being intentional about what’s being consumed and how much.
2. The Cold Turkey Method
With this method, a person simply ceases to consume caffeine all at once. While this can be the fastest way to detox, it does come with a price and a huge shock to your system.
- The fastest way to detox from caffeine.
- A realization of caffeine’s influence on body functioning.
- Can produce severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
- A person may be out of commission for 1 to 3 days or even weeks if the addiction was severe.
- Can lead to a loss of productivity.
- Invokes more of a tendency to give up because of how horrible it makes people feel.
“My first four weeks of quitting cold turkey were terrible. I was at the doctor’s each of the first four weeks because I thought I was sick. I knew caffeine withdrawal was a thing but not like this!!”
Prepare in advance for the cold turkey method!
If you choose the cold turkey method, it’s important that you know what to expect and prepare in advance for the debilitating withdrawal symptoms that can follow.
- Plan ahead so that the first couple days of detox fall on a weekend or work holiday.
- Have pain relievers on hand and avoid driving.
- Have plenty of food on hand to avoid the need to drive anywhere for food.
- Prepare some meals in advance like soup or other easy to digest foods.
- Talk with family members about what you are about to do, what they can expect, and how they can help.
- Inform your co-workers and/or your boss about your caffeine detox.
The method of preparation is relative to the amount of caffeine you had been consuming. Those who had been consuming large amounts of caffeine should prepare more than those detoxing from smaller daily amounts.
Either one of these caffeine detox methods will work, but a person has to decide which one will have the least impact of his/her lifestyle and which one is likely to be the most successful given the unique circumstances involved.
See Also: Our Guide to Understanding Caffeine.
A Personal Caffeine Detox Story
Ok, I feel lousy.
I’m tired, unmotivated, and my head’s foggy.
I have half a headache and I’m cranky. Why? Yesterday I decided to start a caffeine detox.
For several weeks I’ve felt the need to reset my “caffeine clock”. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I needed to return to the time before I had such a tolerance for caffeine. A wonderful time where one coffee would bring feelings of elation and joy, leaving me ready to take on whatever task was before me.
Unfortunately, the occasional coffee turned into one a day, then two a day, then mixed with energy drinks and chocolate covered espresso beans. Wham, I was hooked. I soon noticed that I wasn’t really getting the benefits of caffeine anymore and really just needed it to maintain a new sense of normal so I decided to detox.
Yesterday I cut back to one coffee and it’s now been over 24 hours without any caffeine.
The withdrawal symptoms are making it very hard to get my work done today, but I’m plugging on as the receptors in my brain learn to readjust from their caffeine fed state.
Caffeine detox isn’t as easy as one would think and I can definitely see the ties to addiction that caffeine possesses. There is also the little voice that keeps telling me to make a pot of coffee and all of this will go away.
However, I’m listening to the bigger voice telling me how great a cup of coffee will be at the end of my two month detox from caffeine.
Other Tips to Break Caffeine Addiction
HealthyEater.com has a great piece on weaning off of coffee. They believe going cold turkey is not a good idea and supplementing higher caffeine items with lower caffeine can really help. They suggest replacing a coffee with green tea.
Another thing to do is to take power naps during the detox. However, that is not realistic for most of us. When was the last time your boss was happy with you taking a nap under your desk?
If you want to reduce your caffeine intake (or quit entirely), here’s how:
1.Download our book Awake(it’s free).
2. Do the Overcoming Caffeine Withdrawal course at Udemy.
3. Use the Wean Caffeine supplement (something we helped get to market). It helps you avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms that often come when quitting caffeine abruptly.
Some people may benefit from a 12-step program created for those with addiction to caffeine. There’s an online program available at Caffeineaddictsanonymous.com.
Written by Ted Kallmyer, last updated on April 16, 2019
How to Kick Your Caffeine Dependence for Good
An estimated 64% of Americans drink coffee every day, according to data from the National Coffee Association. In many ways, that’s a healthy habit: research has found that coffee may boost longevity and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more.
But when the habit crosses the line from a pleasant pick-me-up to a daily necessity, the equation gets a little more complicated.
People can develop a dependence on coffee and other caffeinated beverages, such as tea, soda and energy drinks, says Merideth Addicott, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Psychiatric Research Institute. Addicott, who has researched caffeine in the past, says that caffeine is not truly addictive in the way that drugs and alcohol are, but confirms that “people certainly do develop tolerance and dependence and go through withdrawal when they stop using it.”
Here’s what you need to know about caffeine dependence — and how to break the habit.
How can you tell if you’re dependent on caffeine?
Addicott says caffeine dependence is more about the way the substance affects your day-to-day functioning than it is about the actual amount you consume each day. There’s no specific number of cups, or milligrams of caffeine, per day that signifies a problem; instead, Addicott says, it’s more about how distressed people feel if they can’t get caffeine when they want it, and how much of a disruption it causes in their daily life. “It’s more of a subjective threshold,” she says.
That said, most experts recommend that adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (approximately the amount in four cups of coffee). If you regularly drink more than that, you may be at risk of side effects including sleep disruption, migraines and other headaches, quickened heartbeat, muscle tremors, irritability, nervousness and an upset stomach, according to the Mayo Clinic. For some people, those side effects can kick in with even fewer cups, as caffeine tolerance tends to be highly individual.
If you experience physical side effects, have trouble dialing back your consumption or feel totally out of sorts when you can’t get your daily fix, these are signs that you may be dependent on caffeine, and you should consider cutting back, Addicott says.
How can you beat caffeine dependence?
The hardest but most important step may be convincing yourself that you don’t need caffeine in the first place. Many people feel that it’s necessary for success at work or school, but the substance actually doesn’t make a dramatic impact on the brain or cognitive performance, Addicott says — in fact, caffeine dependence is closely intertwined with its perceived effects.
“When you drink a certain amount of caffeine every single day, your body adapts to that and maintains the normal baseline performance,” Addicott says. “When you don’t get that much caffeine, you go through withdrawal, which can actually lower your performance. So then it feels like caffeine is having this strong effect and improving the ability to concentrate, but it’s really not. It’s just bringing you back to that normal baseline.”
MORE: No, Coffee and Tea Aren’t Actually Dehydrating. Here’s Why
Once you recognize and break this cycle, Addicott says, you’ll be able to achieve the same results without a steady stream of espresso shots. Of course, that’s easier said than done — and unfortunately, Addicott says that the only real way to do it is to wean yourself off of caffeinated drinks slowly but surely.
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Swapping buzzy beverages for half-caffeinated or decaffeinated versions may help, as can walking around the office or getting other physical activity when you feel sleepy. But at some point, “you’re just going to have to tough it out and suffer some withdrawal,” Addicott says. You can expect symptoms such as headache, fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating, but they should go away as you adjust to your new habits. Symptoms should subside within a few days, the Mayo Clinic says.
Is caffeine dependence even that bad?
It can be. In addition to the side effects of excessive caffeine use — and the intake of sugar or artificial sweeteners that are sometimes in soda, energy drinks or coffee drinks — caffeine dependence may be a sign of an underlying issue, just as with any substance use disorder. “Maybe it’s also symptomatic of having mild depression and you’re using the caffeine to try to concentrate better, or you’re anxious about your work performance and you use the caffeine to try and compensate for that,” Addicott says. “Talking to a health care professional can get at those deeper issues that might be surrounding the caffeine use.”
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Write to Jamie Ducharme at [email protected]
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a bitter substance that occurs naturally in more than 60 plants including
- Coffee beans
- Tea leaves
- Kola nuts, which are used to flavor soft drink colas
- Cacao pods, which are used to make chocolate products
There is also synthetic (man-made) caffeine, which is added to some medicines, foods, and drinks. For example, some pain relievers, cold medicines, and over-the-counter medicines for alertness contain synthetic caffeine. So do energy drinks and “energy-boosting” gums and snacks.
Most people consume caffeine from drinks. The amounts of caffeine in different drinks can vary a lot, but it is generally
- An 8-ounce cup of coffee: 95-200 mg
- A 12-ounce can of cola: 35-45 mg
- An 8-ounce energy drink: 70-100 mg
- An 8-ounce cup of tea: 14-60 mg
What are caffeine’s effects on the body?
Caffeine has many effects on your body’s metabolism. It
- Stimulates your central nervous system, which can make you feel more awake and give you a boost of energy
- Is a diuretic, meaning that it helps your body get rid of extra salt and water by urinating more
- Increases the release of acid in your stomach, sometimes leading to an upset stomach or heartburn
- May interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body
- Increases your blood pressure
Within one hour of eating or drinking caffeine, it reaches its peak level in your blood. You may continue to feel the effects of caffeine for four to six hours.
What are the side effects from too much caffeine?
For most people, it is not harmful to consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day. If you do eat or drink too much caffeine, it can cause health problems, such as
- Restlessness and shakiness
- Rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
- Dependency, so you need to take more of it to get the same results
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others.
What are energy drinks, and why can they be a problem?
Energy drinks are beverages that have added caffeine. The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can vary widely, and sometimes the labels on the drinks do not give you the actual amount of caffeine in them. Energy drinks may also contain sugars, vitamins, herbs, and supplements.
Companies that make energy drinks claim that the drinks can increase alertness and improve physical and mental performance. This has helped make the drinks popular with American teens and young adults. There’s limited data showing that energy drinks might temporarily improve alertness and physical endurance. There is not enough evidence to show that they enhance strength or power. But what we do know is that energy drinks can be dangerous because they have large amounts of caffeine. And since they have lots of sugar, they can contribute to weight gain and worsen diabetes.
Sometimes young people mix their energy drinks with alcohol. It is dangerous to combine alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine can interfere with your ability to recognize how drunk you are, which can lead you to drink more. This also makes you more likely to make bad decisions.
Who should avoid or limit caffeine?
You should check with your health care provider about whether you should limit or avoid caffeine if you
- Are pregnant, since caffeine passes through the placenta to your baby
- Are breastfeeding, since a small amount of caffeine that you consume is passed along to your baby
- Have sleep disorders, including insomnia
- Have migraines or other chronic headaches
- Have anxiety
- Have GERD or ulcers
- Have fast or irregular heart rhythms
- Have high blood pressure
- Take certain medicines or supplements, including stimulants, certain antibiotics, asthma medicines, and heart medicines. Check with your health care provider about whether there might be interactions between caffeine and any medicines and supplements that you take.
- Are a child or teen. Neither should have as much caffeine as adults. Children can be especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
What is caffeine withdrawal?
If you have been consuming caffeine on a regular basis and then suddenly stop, you may have caffeine withdrawal. Symptoms can include
- Difficulty concentrating
These symptoms usually go away after a couple of days.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a plant product that is most commonly found in coffee beans, tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, cocoa and chocolate. Caffeine is also found in some prescription and non-prescription drugs, including cold, allergy and pain relievers.
How caffeine affects the body:
Caffeine acts as a stimulant by exerting an effect on the central nervous system. The effects of caffeine on the body may begin as early as 15 minutes after ingesting and last up to six hours.
Caffeine is recognized as an addictive substance by the World Health Organization (WHO).
When consumed in moderate doses (no more than 200 mg, or about 1-2 6-oz cups of coffee), caffeine can help people feel more alert and less sleepy. Most individuals consuming moderate amounts will experience few, if any, negative side effects.
Caffeine may increase heart rate, body temperature, blood flow to the skin & extremities, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, stomach acid secretion and production of urine (diuretic). People may experience dizziness, hypoglycemia, fruit-like breath odor, troubled breathing, muscle tremors, nausea, diarrhea, increased urine, ketones in urine,drowsiness, thirst, anxiety, confusion, irritability, insomnia, changes in appetite, dry mouth, blurred vision, and cold sweats.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking coffee will not help someone who is intoxicated become sober.
While consuming moderate amounts of caffeine does not seem to have long-term detrimental effects, consuming larger amounts of caffeine (1000 mg or about ten 6-oz cups of coffee a day) on a regular basis may be linked to conception problems, increased episodes of heartburn, and changes in bowel habits.
Too much caffeine may lead to sleep deprivation and a tendency to disregard the normal warning signals that the body is tired and needs rest. Caffeine does not replenish energy or prevent emotional fatigue; food and sleep are the only remedies for these. When normal sleeping patterns are continually disrupted, mood depression may occur. Too much caffeine may also lead to anxiety-related feelings such as excessive nervousness, sweating and tremors.
People who take medications for depression, anxiety or insomnia, high blood pressure, other heart problems, chronic stomach upset or kidney disease should limit caffeine until discussing the matter with a clinician.
If you want to avoid some of the annoying side effects of caffeinated beverages (e.g., jitters or sleeplessness), switching to decaffeinated drinks may help.
Effects of quitting:
People who stop drinking caffeinated drinks may notice several side effects, especially if they are used to consuming large amounts of caffeine. Some symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include headaches, irritability, nervousness, nausea, constipation and muscular tension. These symptoms usually appear about 12-24 hours after someone has stopped consuming caffeine and usually last about one week. It is recommended that you gradually decrease your caffeine intake to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Caffeine during pregnancy:
Some studies show an association between high doses of caffeine and an increased rate of miscarriages, premature deliveries or low birth weights. However, complicating factors such as smoking and alcohol use were not accounted for in these studies. In high doses, caffeine can affect fetal breathing and heart rate.
If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, consider your options (e.g. eliminating caffeine or limiting intake to 200-300 mg per day). Discuss these options with your clinician.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest lists caffeine content of food, drink and non-prescription drugs.
Caffeine Informer provides a fun calculator and other tools.
For coffee, caffeine content varies depending on type of bean, quantity used, how finely beans are ground and brewing time.
For non-prescription drugs, it’s a good idea to read labels.
UHS offers nutrition consultation. See Nutrition Clinic or call (734) 763-3760.
See also Medline Plus