Coffee, tea, energy drinks: Can you overdose on caffeine?

Posted at 12:48 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 14:18:55-05

Not many of you may know that consuming too much caffeine can be dangerous.

If you’re like many Americans, caffeine is part of your daily life. Moderate amounts are relatively safe, but too much can cause serious neurologic and cardiac effects. You can suffer with a rapid heart rate, seizures, heart rhythm disturbances, hallucinations, muscle breakdown and cardiac ischemia – which means your heart arteries narrow. These are serious risks and can lead to death because there is no antidote for excess caffeine intake.

For adults, taking up to 400 milligrams a day is relatively safe. That’s easy to reach if you’re a coffee drinker because one cup gives you 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. Tea has anywhere between 20 to 80 milligrams of caffeine – not as high as coffee.  My concern is for those who like energy drinks. These can exceed 200 milligrams per serving. You need to check the label because you may be drinking multiple servings in one container.

Caffeine stays in our system for four to six hours. My concern is that many of us see caffeine as safe. There are other precautions you should be aware of so here are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX
1.  If you’re thirsty, avoid caffeine.  It’s a mild diuretic, so it’s makes your body lose water.
2.  Check your medications as they may interact with caffeine. If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
3.  Be careful if you take the herbal supplement Echinacea.  It may increase unpleasant side effects of caffeine.
4.  Please don’t give energy drinks to children, the high caffeine levels are very unsafe especially for small children.

I’d recommend seeking emergency care if you experience more than the usual jitters, heartburn or loose stool. It’s best to NOT drink three or four cups of coffee or strong tea in a short amount of time – that way you can avoid putting yourself at serious risk.