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Most of us couldn’t imagine starting off the day without a cup of coffee or tea to get us going.  But, filling up your mug on the daily isn’t without its consequences.  And, while coffee or tea seems innocuous enough, it may not be as safe as you think.  That’s because both coffee and some types of tea contain caffeine.  And, while a little bit of caffeine is generally fine, too much can actually deal some damage.  So, what are the Risks Of Too Much Caffeine?  Keep reading to learn more about this curious substance and what it really does to your body.

Risks Of Too Much Caffeine: What Is Caffeine (And Why Do We Use It)?

You may be familiar with two big classes of drugs: depressants and stimulants.  Depressants are chemicals that tend to slow down the nervous system to a degree.  So, alcohol, for example, usually causes people to lose focus and get a little fuzzy.  (There are many risks of alcohol, too, but that’s for a different article).  On the other hand, stimulants, well, stimulate the central nervous system.  And, caffeine is a crystalline compound that does just that.

Sure, there are Risks Of Too Much Caffeine, but on the whole, people use this chemical on purpose to achieve a beneficial result.  One of the big results is a nootropic result – an improvement in brain function.  So, when you wake up with less than enough focus to take on the day, you drink coffee or black tea to feel like you’re waking up.  But, caffeine can do a lot more than that.  Caffeine citrate has actually earned a spot on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines.  And, it pops up in treatments for Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia and Orthostatic Hypotension.  You can also find it in pain medications designed for migraines.  So, when it comes to the Risks Of Too Much Caffeine, you shouldn’t forget the benefits of using caffeine responsibly.

Risks Of Too Much Caffeine: Where Can You Find Caffeine?

We’ve already mentioned that caffeine shows up in coffee and black tea.  But, there are some potentially surprising places that you might find caffeine.  Actually, somewhere around sixty species of plants naturally contain caffeine (coffee beans being just one of them).  South American yerba mate leaves, for example, make a popular tea.  However, there are many unrelated plants that contain caffeine in various locations with temperate climates.  The good news is that it’s not really necessary to worry about the Risks Of Too Much Caffeine from natural sources like coffee.  Caffeine supplements tend to be more of the risk.

Of course, in recent years, soft drinks and energy drinks have provided a little more concern, too.  While soft drinks like cola usually only contain 0-55 milligrams of caffeine per can (12 ounce), energy drinks usually pump that number up considerably.  Some energy drinks start with up to 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving.  And, they often have quite a bit of sugar and other ingredients that can cause stimulating effects.  These may exacerbate the risks of too much caffeine.

Funnily enough, another source of caffeine is chocolate.  Chocolate actually may have a stimulant effect due to not only caffeine, but theobromine and theophylline.  (You may recognize theobromine as the ingredient that is toxic to dogs.)  A small milk chocolate bar won’t have much caffeine.  But, dark chocolate can have quite a bit.  A 100-gram bar of 85% cocoa chocolate may have around 195 milligrams of caffeine.  So, even with chocolate, you should at least be aware of the risks of too much caffeine.

Risks Of Too Much Caffeine: Negative Symptoms

We’ve discussed some of the good things about caffeine.  From helping get rid of migraines, to promoting more focus during the day, caffeine can often be a life-saver (in a soft sense of the word).  However, you don’t necessarily want to put your life in caffeine’s hands, either.  Because, the risks of too much caffeine are all-too real.  Let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms of caffeine addiction and withdrawal, and caffeine overdose.  Just remember that one of the risks of too much caffeine, overdose, can start with as little as 250-500 milligrams of caffeine.

Symptoms of Caffeine Addiction and Withdrawal

  • You require more caffeine to get the desired effect.
  • Without caffeine, you can’t perform normal daily activities.
  • When you’ve tried quitting caffeine, you feel “unable to stop.”
  • Quitting caffeine results in fatigue, headache, low energy, drowsiness, moodiness, irritability, fogginess, difficulty concentrating, or even flu-like symptoms (nausea, vomiting, pain or stiffness).

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose (in order of how you’d probably experience them)

  • Jittery, Restless, Nervous Feeling
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Cardiac Arrhythmia (Heart Palpitations)
  • Trouble Sleeping/Insomnia
  • Sweating and Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Cardiac Arrest

Risks Of Too Much Caffeine: How To Break A Caffeine Addiction

If you think you might have an addiction to caffeine, here’s the good news.  Unless you overdose, a caffeine addiction may be one of the safer psychoactive drug addictions you could have.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to break the addiction anyway.  Firstly, it’s a good idea to prevent addiction by NOT drinking caffeine every day.  Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee out of habit, make a smoothie or some other hot beverage.  Even many types of tea do not contain caffeine.  If you already drink coffee daily, you could start to limit the amount you drink.  This could help you avoid the risks of too much caffeine in the long run.

However, if you have a serious caffeine addiction, it’s a good idea to consult a medical professional to get some personalized advice for how to skip the caffeine.

Risks Of Too Much Caffeine: The Takeaway

While caffeine is an intriguing substance with some proven medical benefits, it should always be considered a drug, and taken seriously as such.  In the end, the key to avoiding the Risks Of Too Much Caffeine is to know how much caffeine you’re consuming.  That way, you won’t be taken by surprise.

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