Caffeine overdose symptoms are real, which is why enjoying coffee in moderation is important.
The caffeine debate has been taking place for years, with some studies showing negative impacts, but a variety more showing positive impacts. While caffeine has been shown to elicit a variety of benefits, it is possible to have too much caffeine. As with most things, too much of one thing is bad for you – including caffeine. But is there really such a thing as “too much caffeine” or caffeine overdose? Short answer: yes, but there are a few considerations that go into this.
If you’re worried about your caffeine or coffee consumption, keep reading on because this article is perfect for you!
Health Benefits and Risks of Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that affects your central nervous system. Almost 90% of adults in the world consume caffeine in various drink forms, whether that be in coffee, tea, soda, or other beverages.
The natural chemical stimulant grows on plants and is often harvested to make tea or coffee. There isn’t a direct or exact reason for the growth of caffeine, but some scientists argue that it is a natural defense mechanism used by plants to protect themselves from insects and other harmful predators.
Today, caffeine can be found in teas, coffees, energy drinks, your favorite can of soda, and even in migraine medications like ibuprofen.
Caffeine comes with a long list of natural benefits. First, it is commonly used to boost our physical and mental energy. Caffeine helps boosts our cognitive performance by increasing alertness, short-term memory, focus, and logical reasoning whenever we are deprived of sleep during situations where sleep is restricted (for example, if you are a trucker or if you work on a graveyard shift). Caffeine is also great for our physical performance. But there are more benefits we can get from caffeine other than its energy-boosting benefits.
Caffeine can lower your risk on some major diseases we have such as:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Some form of cancers
- Parkinson’s Disease
However, to achieve these benefits, we have to make sure we don’t drink too much caffeine. If you consume too much, it will actually have an adverse effect on your body. When taking too much, here are some of the risks:
- Increased blood pressure
- Possible or increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Caffeine addiction and dependency
- Reduced fertility
So, how do you know how much caffeine you should consume? While there is a set average, there are a few different scientific studies that back up specific amounts of caffeine being the most beneficial. On the other hand, it’s important to note that people react differently to caffeine than others. Some can handle normal caffeine levels; others cannot even handle a small sip of a coffee or energy drink. Lastly, some can handle relatively large amounts of caffeine and still do not show any signs of caffeine overdose.
In order to determine how much caffeine is beneficial for you, it’s important to determine your caffeine sensitivity and caffeine tolerance levels.
Caffeine Sensitivity and Caffeine Tolerance
Not all people react to caffeine levels in the same way. As mentioned above, the average or normal level of caffeine does not fit everybody. Each of us reacts differently to caffeine, because of having different bodies and chemical makeup – and this is called our caffeine sensitivity.
Generally, caffeine sensitivity can be broken down into three groups hyper sensitivity normal sensitivity, and hypo-sensitivity.
If you palpitate or become jittery after a few sips of coffee, chances are you are hypersensitive to caffeine. Generally, it is best to stay away from caffeine if you’re at this level because of the impact it can have on your heart. If you really love coffee or tea, you may want to try decaf coffee or tea. Many teas have little to no caffeine content, and you can also find great decaf coffees to substitute your normal cup.
It’s also important to note that if you are hypersensitive to caffeine, you are less likely to get the health benefits of caffeine because your body reacts very sensitively to it.
The vast majority of people have a normal sensitivity reaction to caffeine. A normal sensitivity level means that they can consume up to 400mg of caffeine daily without showing any side effects. This is the recommended and average caffeine amount for daily consumption. This means that you can consume the specified amount of caffeine and receive the health benefits that come with it. Just be careful not to go over, because then caffeine overdose symptoms may appear.
Just like there are people who are overactive to caffeine, there are also people who are interactive. If you can drink a large amount of caffeine and show no sign of caffeine effects, then chances are you are hypersensitive to caffeine.
Typically people in this group can still receive some of the longer-term health benefits of caffeine, although they won’t see short-term benefits like increased energy.
Caffeine sensitivity can be caused by genetics, however, you can also develop a caffeine tolerance over the years. For instance, assuming you’re new to drinking coffee, you can start at one cup per day, and eventually go up to 3-4 cups per day. However, take caution with how much you are drinking, especially if you fall on the hyper-sensitive group.
At the same time, if you are looking to reset your caffeine tolerance, you can do it by detoxing your body from caffeine for a certain period of time.
Caffeine Overdose Symptoms
Symptoms of a caffeine overdose can vary from mild to severe. In fact, some symptoms, especially on the lower reaction level, may appear to be stand-alone symptoms. So, it’s important to pay attention to the symptoms of caffeine overdose, because sometimes they can appear in their own unique way.
If you are a regular coffee drinker or fond of any caffeinated drink, pay attention when these symptoms occur. They can be signs you’re drinking too much caffeine. Here are some of the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
When your caffeine overdose is severe, other symptoms may occur. If you experience these serious symptoms of caffeine overdose, seek immediate medical treatment. Here are the symptoms that call for immediate medical treatment:
- Faster or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Mental confusion
- Uncontrollable muscle movements
If you face any of these symptoms, be sure to seek medical treatment as caffeine overdose can be dangerous to your health.
How about kids and babies, can they suffer from caffeine overdose? Yes.
Your infant can suffer from caffeine overdose if the breast milk you give contains an excessive amount of caffeine. Mild symptoms include nausea and muscles that tense, then relax, again and again.
More serious signs of caffeine overdose include rapid breathing, vomiting and shock. If your child experiences these symptoms, seek immediate medical help for proper treatment and diagnosis.
Safe Amounts of Caffeine Intake
There is no set standard for average caffeine intake for everybody and one reason is simply because we have different sensitivity to caffeine. However, for the vast majority of the population (those with normal sensitivity), the standard amount of caffeine you can take is around 400mg. But again, if you have lower sensitivity, your average should be reduced; if you can handle more caffeine than that, then, well, you can take more than 400mg as long as it does not hurt you.
400mg is the general standard for average, healthy adults with normal caffeine sensitivity. But depending on your situation or other factors, here are some of the standard census for different types of people:
- 400mg or less – healthy adults
- 0mg (don’t take any caffeine) – children from 0-4 years old
- 300mg or less – pregnant women
- 200mg or less – people who suffer from type 2 diabetes, hypertension or arrhythmia.
Caffeine overdose can happen once you drink too much coffee than your body can actually handle. But again, it depends on your sensitivity towards caffeine. It will also depend on your age and other health/physical factors (for instance, if you’re pregnant or if you have a type 2 diabetes).
Important facts to remember about caffeine overdose symptoms:
Caffeine is beneficial for your health if consumed in proper amounts – caffeine is loaded with a variety of benefits that include more than just an energy boost. So, unless you’re super sensitive to coffee, coffee can be incredibly beneficial for your health.
Symptoms of caffeine overdose can go unnoticed – which is why, if you are fond of drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks, take notice if you observe any symptoms of caffeine overdose – both mild or severe. If you start to experience any symptoms, stop taking caffeine, and see how it works for you. If the symptoms show up in a more serious way, seek immediate professional health.
There is really no standard amount that fits everybody – the amount of caffeine you should consume daily depends on your caffeine sensitivity levels. For healthy adults with normal caffeine sensitivity, 400mg (or less) is the standard.
We hope that this article helped you about your questions on caffeine consumption. Itching to make a great cup of coffee after reading about it? Check out all of our awesome blends here.