Caffeine is often a daily part of people’s routines. Some joke that their day cannot even start without their morning cup of coffee! Coffee and caffeine are staples in many office environments. After all, coffee shops can be found on many street corners in America. Is it possible that this thing we rely on could be a drug?
Caffeine is Considered a Drug
Caffeine is, in fact, a stimulant drug. Stimulant drugs increase the rate of brain and body activity. That is why consuming a caffeine product can make you feel more alert or awake. Specifically, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. It also increases blood pressure, acts as a diuretic, and increases the release of stomach acid.
Caffeine is not only found in coffee beans. Caffeine is also in tea leaves, kola nuts (used in soda), and cacao pods (use in chocolate products). It is naturally occurring in some plants. Additionally, caffeine is sometimes used as to treat headaches, asthma, gallbladder disease, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.
Caffeine is deemed safe for healthy adults when taken by mouth at daily doses of 400mg or less. That is about 4 cups of coffee.
The Effects of Caffeine
The way caffeine impacts a person depends on their size, their health, other drugs they may take, and the amount of caffeine they consume.
These side effects can happen as quickly as 5 minutes after consuming caffeine. The effects could last for up to 12 hours.
- Increased alertness
- Feeling more active
- Restlessness, or difficulty with relaxing or sleeping
- Urgency for urination
- Faster breathing
- Increases heart rate
- High body temperature
- Stomach pains
Consuming a larger amount of caffeine over a long period of time can lead to other effects. For example, drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day would be considered a large amount. These side effects are not common, but they are possible. These long-term effects can include:
- Confusion or delirium
- Sleeping issues or restlessness
- Muscle tremor
- Weakness and fatigue
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart rate or rhythm
- Faster breathing rate
- Stomach issues, including poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Ulcer development
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Low blood pressure with faintness or dizziness
It is also important to remember that even though coffee is consumed in order to become more energetic or stay awake longer, the “come down” after-effect can make a person feel more lethargic.
Additionally, consuming caffeine with other drugs or alcohol can lead to other complications. Talk with a doctor about mixing any drug with caffeine. For example, it can be dangerous to consume caffeine while also taking a stimulant drug, as that increases risk for cardiovascular issues.
After having caffeine for a long time, it may be difficult to stop. This is because the body and brain become used to it being in its system for functioning. Giving up caffeine, in some cases, could lead to withdrawal symptoms. These may include:
- Strong fatigue
- Depressed mood
- Difficult Concentrating
- Flu-like symptoms
Although it is extremely unlikely, it is possible to overdose on caffeine. As with any drug, an overdose can be fatal. Signs of caffeine overdose can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Very fast or irregular heartbeat
- Panic attack
Please seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms are present.
It is important to remember that not all drugs have the same risk level to the body. Problems with caffeine are rare, but can occur. Moderation is key. Consider talking to your medical doctor. A health professional that knows your history can give you the best guidance about any dietary or drug related consumption. They may suggest that you avoid or limit caffeine.