Treating And Preventing Caffeine Overload

February 8, 2024

With its presence in everyday drinks like tea and lattes, we often think of caffeine as fairly harmless. However, it is possible to overload on caffeine just like any other stimulant. In the milder stages, this can just cause headaches, insomnia, jitteriness, and irritability. Adults can reach this stage if they have over four hundred milligrams a day, or four cups of coffee, while teens can reach this state when they consume more than two hundred milligrams a day. However, individuals who consume a truly excessive amount of caffeine a day can suffer from potentially fatal overloads, characterized by vomiting, rapid breathing, confusion, uncontrollable muscle movements, irregular heartbeats, clammy skin, loss of consciousness, chest pain, and convulsions. Therefore it is important to seek medical treatment quickly if caffeine overload is suspected.

Ingest Activated Charcoal

This is a treatment for individuals in the medically dangerous stage of caffeine overload. It involves taking repeated doses of a special type of charcoal that can bind with the caffeine and keep the body from absorbing it. Since this treatment works by keeping the caffeine from getting into the patient's system, it is only effective for a short period just after the caffeine overload. Doctors may get patients to ingest activated charcoal to absorb caffeine in either the stomach or bowels. Typically, the powdered charcoal is mixed with a liquid and given to patients as a drink, though in some cases, it can be administered through a feeding tube. Activated charcoal is also available in pill form, but this is not often used in cases of caffeine overload because patients would have to swallow an unpleasantly high volume of pills to deal with the issue.

Get A Gastric Lavage

A gastric lavage is another potential option for individuals who have already begun to digest a physically dangerous amount of caffeine. This treatment is more commonly referred to as a stomach pump, and it is a fairly common method of dealing with all types of overdoses. The process starts out with the healthcare professionals passing a tube through the nose or mouth to reach the patient's stomach. They then repeatedly add warm water or a saline solution to the stomach and use a siphon to remove it. This essentially washes out the stomach and removes caffeine before the patient's system can absorb more. This method is useful for severe cases of caffeine overload because it helps to quickly get the caffeine out of the patient's system. Once individuals get a gastric lavage, they may need breathing support, intravenous hydration, or heart monitoring to ensure the caffeine they have already absorbed does not continue to cause issues.

Monitor Caffeine Intake Daily

Individuals who regularly deal with migraines, insomnia, jitters, tremors, and the other symptoms of a mild caffeine overload need to look carefully at their caffeine consumption. It can be hard to monitor caffeine intake daily because beverages can vary in caffeine based on how they were brewed and how the plant itself was grown. On average, black coffee has somewhere between seventy and 140 milligrams of caffeine, while soda has twenty to seventy milligrams and tea has thirty to eighty milligrams. Some energy drinks can contain as much as 250 milligrams of caffeine per serving.

Adults should try to ensure they drink no more than four hundred milligrams of caffeine in a day. if they still experience symptoms, however, they may need to drop their intake even more. An individual's likelihood to suffer from caffeine overload is partially down to their tolerance, so individuals who do not get a lot of caffeine regularly can experience symptoms after smaller amounts. Keep in mind beverages are not the only way to get caffeine, and it is often present in certain energy bars, chocolates, ice creams, and medications.

Avoid Caffeine After A Certain Time

Individuals are more likely to suffer from problematic symptoms of excess caffeine if they consume it later in the day. This happens because a lot of the unpleasant symptoms are linked to the lack of sleep individuals face when they drink or eat something with a lot of caffeine too late. Even if individuals fall asleep normally and sleep a typical number of hours, caffeine tends to impair the quality of their sleep, leaving them feeling unpleasant the next day. It takes the average healthy adult five hours to eliminate half the caffeine in their system. This means having a cup of coffee in the afternoon can be the same as having a couple sips of coffee right before trying to sleep. Individuals should quit drinking caffeine seven to ten hours before bed to get the best possible sleep. The more an individual drinks, the earlier they need to avoid caffeine during the day.

Switch To Beverages With Lower Or No Caffeine

Switching to a lower amount of caffeine each day can be very challenging when all of an individual's favorite drinks contain caffeine. However, individuals who want to prevent future caffeine overloads need to find alternatives to highly caffeinated beverages. However, it is a good idea to gradually switch to beverages with lower or no caffeine to avoid signs of caffeine withdrawal. For example, individuals could replace one cup of coffee each day with a cup of black tea and see how they feel. When it comes to caffeine levels, hot chocolate and white tea are normally the lowest caffeinated options, followed by green tea and then black tea. Of course, herbal teas are caffeine-free! In some cases, the boost individuals crave from caffeine is simply due to the sugar in the beverage, and switching to a beverage with little to no caffeine, such as hot chocolate, herbal tea, fruit juice, or green tea can provide the boost without dramatically increasing their caffeine intake.

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