The Analyst™

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  Caffeine Intoxication  
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Signs, symptoms and indicators | Conditions that suggest it | Contributing risk factors | It can lead to... | Recommendations


Caffeine intoxication usually occurs with consumption above 250mg (equivalent to about 2 1/2 cups of coffee). Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and may be taken to help restore mental alertness when unusual tiredness, weakness or drowsiness occurs. Caffeine's use as an alertness aid should be only occasional. It is not intended to replace sleep and should not be used regularly for this purpose.

The amount of caffeine in some common foods and beverages is as follows:

  • Coffee, brewed - 40 to 180mg per cup
  • Coffee, instant - 30 to 120mg per cup
  • Coffee, decaffeinated - 3 to 5mg per cup
  • Tea, brewed American - 20 to 90mg per cup
  • Tea, brewed imported - 25 to 110mg per cup
  • Tea, instant - 28mg per cup
  • Tea, canned iced - 22 to 36mg per 12 ounces
  • Cola and other soft drinks, caffeine-containing - 36 to 90mg per 12 ounces
  • Cola and other soft drinks, decaffeinated - 0mg per 12 ounces
  • Cocoa - 4mg per cup
  • Chocolate, milk - 3 to 6mg per ounce
  • Chocolate, bittersweet - 25mg per ounce



Signs, symptoms & indicators of Caffeine Intoxication:
Symptoms - Cardiovascular  Heart racing/palpitations
 Caffeine intoxication can cause a rapid or 'pounding' heart rate.


Symptoms - Food - Beverages

  Negative reaction to coffee

Symptoms - General

  Fatigue that worsens during the day
 Caffeine is known to cause periods of exhaustion.

  Constant fatigue

Symptoms - Metabolic

 High caffeine levels can cause restlessness.

Symptoms - Mind - Emotional

  Being anxious/nervous

Symptoms - Mind - General

  Being easily excitable
  An overstimulated mind
 Caffeine intoxication is known to cause rambling thought and speech.

Symptoms - Skin - General

  Dark/dark/flushed facial coloring
  Facial flushing

Conditions that suggest Caffeine Intoxication:
Diet  Dehydration
 Dehydration may result from the increased urinary frequency brought on by caffeine.

  Chocolate Craving


  Lack of Sleep
 It almost goes without saying that coffee decreases the quality of sleep and is one of the leading causes of sleep disturbance. Coffee drinkers are sleepier and groggier than non-coffee drinkers when they get up in the morning, causing them to depend on coffee to get them going. This grogginess may be the result of their entering caffeine withdrawal during the night, or that drinking coffee kept them from sleeping well in the first place, or both.




  Muscle Cramps / Twitching
  Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) / Periodic Limb Moveme
 Excess caffeine levels cause restlessness. Caffeine has been shown to increase subjects� proneness to develop RLS at lower levels of blood glucose. It is therefore no surprise that a xanthine-free diet (no coffee, tea, cola beverages, cocoa) has been reported to be another effective dietary measure RLS sometimes following a short period of caffeine withdrawal. [J Clin Psychiatry 39: pp.693-8, 1978; Ann Intern Med 119: pp.799-804, 1993]


  Increased Urinary Frequency
 Caffeine is a diuretic, causing increased urination.

Risk factors for Caffeine Intoxication:
Supplements and Medications  Significant/moderate caffeine supplementation

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

  (High) tea consumption
  (High) coffee consumption
  Caffeinated soft drink consumption

  Coffee consumption

Caffeine Intoxication can lead to:
Diet  Dehydration
 Dehydration may result from the increased urinary frequency brought on by caffeine.

Recommendations for Caffeine Intoxication:
Diet  Caffeine/Coffee Avoidance

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Strongly counter-indicative
Highly recommended