Many of us cannot think of a day without our heady cup of coffee. But excess caffeine may result in a caffeine overdose which leads to intoxication.
“Enough is enough, that’s your fourth cup of coffee in the last two hours,” exclaimed Ritika’s friends as she walked back to her desk with her hot espresso just the way she liked it- strong, no milk and no sugar. Whenever her friends mentioned that it’s not good for her, Ritika always laughed it off. For the last few weeks she had been feeling slightly irritable and restless. After weeks of ignoring the problem she finally visited her doctor.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine chemically is a compound that acts as a stimulant as well as a diuretic. While small doses of the compound are fine, excessive amounts can be a cause of concern. People usually associate caffeine only with coffee. According to Dr Roshan Jain, senior consultant psychiatrist, Apollo Hospital, Bangalore, caffeine can also be found in soft drinks, tea and chocolates. Caffeine content in coffee is higher .”
Caffeine intoxication is one of the various caffeine-related psychiatric disorders. This includes caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced sleep disorders and caffeine-induced disorders (NOS). It is said that around 300mg of caffeine (approximately three regular cups of coffee) is the maximum amount of coffee one can consume.
According to Dr Jain, “Caffeine intoxication is caused by excess amounts of caffeine. People drink coffee as it stimulates the mind and keeps them alert. It also helps people distress. When a person has excess amounts of coffee the alert mind crosses a threshold resulting in symptoms such as a feeling of restlessness, nervousness, anxiety, will have a problem sleeping as the mind is awake and people who are predisposed to anxiety attacks will notice that their condition accelerates.”
Talking about the symptoms, Dr Jain explains that clinically if patients come with symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, nervousness, restlessness, palpitations and insomnia doctors look at the possible stimulant responsible for this. People who consume excessive caffeine also feel the urge to urinate frequently. There are three common stimulants – alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
The other possible problems include headaches, rambling speech and thought, gastrointestinal problems, depression etc.
As there is no specific treatment per se, cutting down one’s consumption of caffeine is important. Many people may experience withdrawal symptoms. Dr Roshan says, “These may be physical and psychological symptoms. Physical symptoms could imply feeling restless or very tired and in terms of psychological symptoms it could include an urge for coffee as they associate caffeine with relaxation and similar activities. These symptoms are overcome over time. One could start taking a healthy alternative instead. Slowly they will not feel the need for excessive caffeine.”
According to Dr Jain, caffeine disorders are common in people who have desk jobs, IT professionals and students as it helps them work or study long hours.
Caffeine content in food
Food Caffeine Content
Instant coffee (250ml cup) 60 (12-169)a mg
Brewed Coffee (250ml cup) 80 (40-110)a mg
Black coffee (one serving) 107 (25-214)b
Tea (250ml cup) 27 (9-51)a
Milk Chocolate (60 gms) 5-15 mg
Soft Drinks (350 ml can) 40-49mg