Caffeine Intoxication

Caffeine Intoxication: Overview

Caffeine intoxication usually occurs with consumption above 250mg (equivalent to about 2 12 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.

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

Caffeine content of...Serving Sizemg
Coffee, brewed1 cup40-180
Coffee, instant1 cup30-120
Coffee, decaffeinated1 cup3-5
Tea, brewed American1 cup20-90
Tea, brewed imported1 cup25-110
Tea, instant1 cup28
Tea, iced12oz can22-36
Soft drinks, caffeinated12oz can36-90
Soft drinks, decaffeinated12oz can0
Cocoa1 cup4
Chocolate, milk1 ounce3-6
Chocolate, bittersweet1 ounce25

Signs and Symptoms

Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause the following side-effects:

Another negative effect of caffeine is its potential for addiction.  We all know people who cannot function without their "caffeine fix" and many individuals are clearly addicted to tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate.

Caffeine also increases blood pressure, even in healthy individuals, but particularly in the elderly.  Persons who already suffer from high blood pressure may find that ingesting large quantities of caffeine pushes their blood pressure up to unacceptable levels.

Excessive intakes of caffeine contribute to osteoporosis and may interact negatively with prescription medications.

Research indicates that women who ingest excessive quantities of caffeine, do not conceive as fast as women who drink moderate quantities of this stimulant.

The birth weight of babies born to pregnant women who drink or eat too much caffeine may be low, which exposes the newborn to a number of risks.

In addition, caffeine passes into breast milk and can transfer all the negative effects listed above to the infant.  So, if a baby is irritable, restless or exhibits any of the other side-effects of caffeine excess, this may be due to the mother ingesting too much caffeine.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Caffeine Intoxication:

Symptoms - Cardiovascular

Heart racing/palpitations

Caffeine intoxication can cause a rapid or 'pounding' heart rate.

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

Symptoms - Food - Preferences

Symptoms - General

Slight/moderate/severe afternoon/evening fatigue

Caffeine is known to cause periods of exhaustion.

Symptoms - Metabolic


High caffeine levels can cause restlessness.

Symptoms - Mind - Emotional

Symptoms - Mind - General

Occasional/frequent racing thoughts

Caffeine intoxication is known to cause rambling thought and speech.

Symptoms - Muscular

Symptoms - Skin - General

Conditions that suggest Caffeine Intoxication:


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.



Restless Leg Syndrome

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]

Symptoms - Female


Increased Urinary Frequency

Caffeine is a diuretic, causing increased urination.

Risk factors for Caffeine Intoxication:

Supplements, Medications, Drugs

Symptoms - Female

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

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Caffeine Intoxication suggests the following may be present:


Caffeine Intoxication can lead to:



Dehydration may result from the increased urinary frequency brought on by caffeine.


Low Melatonin Level

Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine deplete melatonin levels.


Recommendations for Caffeine Intoxication:


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