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10 Caffeine Overdose Facts: Symptoms & Prevention

different forms of coffee

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Caffeine is a preferred method of getting energy for a long day or reviving yourself when you feel like you need it. Unfortunately, it can also be quite dangerous. Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in several plants. These plants find their way to our kitchens in the form of coffee, soda, chocolate, and even energy drinks. Caffeine is also used in dietary supplements. Considering all these things in our lives that include caffeine, it’s only natural that we are concerned about caffeine overdose. If you aren’t carrying around a caffeine overdose calculator in your pocket, knowing the facts, symptoms, and prevention are key to staying healthy and enjoying your favorite drinks. Take a look below to learn things you didn’t know about caffeine overdose to help you avoid the possibility of this life-threatening situation.

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The 10 Caffeine Overdose Facts:

  1. In 2018, 92 caffeine overdose deaths were reported and studied by researchers.
  2. The caffeine in dietary supplements and caffeine tablets is the primary culprit in most caffeine overdose deaths.
  3. According to the FDA, one teaspoon of concentrate caffeine powder is the same as drinking 28 cups of coffee.
  4. Most caffeine overdose deaths are caused by a condition called ventricular fibrillation.
  5. Caffeine intoxication is officially part of the DSM-5 manual doctors and psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients.
  6. Babies can suffer from caffeine overdose.
  7. A 2013 report linked the effects of excessive caffeine dependence and that of drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.
  8. Caffeine overdose is known to worsen pre-existing conditions like heart disease and even anxiety.
  9. Activated charcoal is used to help battle caffeine overdose.
  10. When a person suffers a caffeine overdose, hydration, either oral or through an IV is often required.

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Caffeine Overdose Information

1. In 2018, 92 caffeine overdose deaths were reported and studied by researchers.

(MDPI)

Caffeine overdose deaths are considered rare, but in 2018 researchers’ studies reported 92 deaths related to this issue.

pour over coffee
Image Credit: subarasikiai, Pixabay

2. The caffeine in dietary supplements and caffeine tablets is the primary culprit in most caffeine overdose deaths.

(Medical News Today)

Most caffeine overdoses can be blamed on caffeine tablets and dietary supplements. This is especially true when these items are taken with other foods and drinks with caffeine in them.


3. According to the FDA, one teaspoon of concentrate caffeine powder is the same as drinking 28 cups of coffee.

(FDA)

The FDA warns of the dangers involved with taking concentrate caffeine powder. This powder, often used in supplements, contains the same caffeine as drinking 28 cups of coffee.


Caffeine Overdose Medical Facts

4. Most caffeine overdose deaths are caused by a condition called ventricular fibrillation.

(Medical News Today)

According to Medical News Today, most people who suffer from caffeine overdose die due to a condition known as ventricular fibrillation. This is when the lower chambers of the heart stop contracting regularly and instead vibrate. Ventricular fibrillation can cause cardiac arrest and other heart problems.

people with four drinking glasses of coffee making a toast
Image Credit: Valeriia Miller, Pexels

5. Caffeine intoxication is officially part of the DSM-5 manual doctors and psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients.

(Caffeine Informer)

The official manual used by doctors and psychiatrists, the DSM-5, added both caffeine intoxication and caffeine withdrawal to cover the effects of too much caffeine in a person’s body.


6. Babies can suffer from caffeine overdose.

(Healthline)

Healthline reports that babies can suffer from caffeine overdose when breastfeeding mothers take in too much caffeine. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and contracting muscles.


7. A 2013 report linked the effects of excessive caffeine dependence and that of drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

(Journal of Caffeine Research)

A report published by the Journal of Caffeine Research claims the effects of caffeine dependence are similar to those related to other drugs like amphetamines and cocaine.


8. Caffeine overdose is known to worsen pre-existing conditions like heart disease and even anxiety.

(Healthline)

For people who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, caffeine overdose can worsen the situation.

Heart disease
Image Credit: SuriyaPhoto, Shutterstock

Caffeine Overdose Treatments

9. Activated charcoal is used to help battle caffeine overdose.

(Healthline)

Like with other drug overdose scenarios, activated charcoal is used to treat caffeine overdose and help prevent high amounts of caffeine from reaching the gastrointestinal tract.


10. When a person suffers a caffeine overdose, hydration, either oral or through an IV is often required.

(NCBI)

Due to caffeine being a natural diuretic, when an overdose presents, one of the main treatments is hydration. If the patient is able, hydration can be given orally. If unable, IVs will be used to get fluids to the body.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Caffeine Overdose

Can caffeine overdose cause death?

While it’s rare, death from caffeine overdose is possible. If you feel you’re suffering from an overdose, seek medical assistance immediately.

Is caffeine considered poisonous to the body?

Caffeine is considered safe when taken in moderation. For caffeine to be considered toxic, more than 10 grams must be taken. At this point, it is considered poison to the body.

If I suspect I’m suffering from a caffeine overdose, should I wait to visit my physician?

No. If you feel there is a chance you’ve ingested too much caffeine and may be suffering from caffeine overdose, go immediately to your nearest emergency room. Doctors on hand will begin your treatment immediately.

Caffeine Overdose Symptoms

Caffeine has potential side effects people may experience when drinking several cups of coffee or having one too many energy drinks. These side effects aren’t to be mistaken for the symptoms of caffeine overdose. Here’s a look at caffeine side effects you may experience from time to time.

  • Alertness
  • Irritability
  • Dehydration
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate

Caffeine overdose is a much more serious issue and is far more difficult on both the body and the mind. While death is rare, it isn’t unheard of. For this reason, it is best to adhere to the FDA’s recommended daily caffeine guideline of 400 milligrams for an adult. Now, let’s take a deeper look at the symptoms of caffeine overdose so you know the difference.

Irregular Heartbeat

Irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate is possibly the most concerning symptom of caffeine overdose. As we’ve mentioned above, ventricular fibrillation is quite possible when the heart is beating irregularly and can lead to worse conditions.

Shakiness and Loss of Balance

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system. When taking in more than your body can withstand, you may start to feel yourself shaking. These shakes are normally uncontrollable and can lead to a loss of balance.

Nausea and Vomiting

A natural reaction of the human body when it has too much of something it doesn’t like is upset stomach and vomiting. If you experience this, along with other symptoms of caffeine overdose, it is time to make your way to the doctor before potential dehydration sets in.

Confusion

It is common for a person to suffer from feelings of confusion and even unease when suffering from a caffeine overdose. Unfortunately, this feeling can also hinder a person’s reaction to their situation.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack takes place when a person is suffering from high levels of anxiety. A normal side effect of caffeine is feeling anxiety. With the large amount of caffeine needed to experience caffeine overdose, this feeling can be extreme and lead to a full-fledged attack.

cups of coffee and tea
Image Credit: Joanna Kosinska, Unsplash

Caffeine Overdose Prevention

The most crucial way of preventing caffeine overdose is to avoid taking in large amounts of caffeine at one time. Drinking several energy drinks in one sitting, taking powdered caffeine, or several dietary supplements at one time can be dangerous. This is especially true when combined with other forms of caffeine such as coffee and chocolate. By keeping a close eye on how much caffeine you ingest daily you can easily avoid a potential caffeine overdose.

If you feel as though you’ve taken in too much caffeine, but haven’t reached overdose levels, there isn’t much you can do except wait it out and hydrate. Caffeine is a natural diuretic which means it will make you urinate more often. By drinking water, you can speed up the effects of caffeine and attempt to flush it out of your system.

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Conclusion

Caffeine overdose doesn’t happen often, but it is a significant possibility to anyone who enjoys lots of caffeine in their diet. If you drink coffee throughout the day, drink the occasional soda, and enjoy chocolate, it may be best if you avoid other things high in caffeine. This will keep you enjoying the benefits of caffeine, like increased energy and mental clarity, without suffering from the effects of a caffeine overdose.

Read More: 23 Caffeine Drug Interactions You Need to Know


Featured Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

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Melissa Gunter

Melissa has been a fan of coffee since the first sip she stole from her Granny's cup when she was just a girl. Now, she spends each morning writing with a hot cup of coffee at her side. With a love of sweet and creamy bliss, Melissa and her daughter, Amber, stop by and try out every local coffee shop they see. Neither are afraid to try something new and have a long list of favorite coffee beverages they simply can't do without. When she's not freelance writing about her 2 passions, coffee, and pets, Melissa spends her time with her husband, 2 kids, and 5 fur babies. She also loves diving into the fiction world under her pen name, Rena Marin. If she isn't at the laptop or with the family, Melissa is out enjoying the mountains of East Tennessee she calls home.

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