Tap to Read ➤

Caffeine Side Effects

Parul Solanki Apr 20, 2019
Usually present in tea, coffee, and chocolates, excess consumption of caffeine can trigger off certain side effects, some of which are discussed here.
The scientific name for caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.
Found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and many chocolates, caffeine is a very common psychostimulant, which is naturally produced in the leaves, beans, and seeds of many plants.
The effect it has on the nervous system results in warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. This makes it a popular additive in many foods, and even in certain medicines like pain relievers and appetite suppressants. 
In fact, according to an estimate it is believed that 90% of Americans consume caffeine products daily. However, what people fail to realize is the harmful side effects which are induced by the excessive consumption of this bitter, white, crystalline, xanthine alkaloid.

Side Effects

In large doses, and usually over a period of time, consumption of caffeine (less than 600 mg/day) present in tea and coffee can trigger "caffeinism".
This condition is characterized not only by an excessive caffeine addiction, but also mental and physical conditions like anxiety, restlessness, irritability, muscle twitching, and caffeine-induced sleep disorders.
In fact, its negative effects on the body include anxiety and panic attacks, and may also result in heart palpitations. It has also been reported that chronic, heavy caffeine ingestion may be associated with depression, dizziness, headaches, and impotence in men. Following are various types of side effects of excessive caffeine consumption.

Gastrointestinal

  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping

Psychiatric

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Light depression
  • Fatigue

Nervous System

  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Jitters

Cardiovascular

  • Increased heartbeat and heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Aortic stiffness
  • Hypertension patients

Endocrine

  • Decrease in insulin sensitivity
  • Elevated serum epinephrine levels

Renal

  • Increased urine flow
  • Increased creatinine clearance
  • Increased sodium and calcium excretion

Caffeine and Pregnancy

  • Increased chances of a miscarriage
  • Constricted blood vessels of the placenta
Other side effects in women include the occurrence of fibrocystic breast disease, which was seen to have a positive correlation with average daily consumption of caffeine. In fact, it was observed that women who consumed 31 to 250 mg/day of caffeine were reported to have a 1.5 times increase in odds to have the disease.
It was also found that women who drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of chocolates, tend to experience pre-menstrual syndrome more acutely than others. This leads to acuter headaches, bloated feeling, and belly cramps.
Excess caffeine in children can lead to obesity and weight gain, dehydration, jitters, upset stomach, nervousness, and difficulty in concentrating and sleeping. However, a sudden withdrawal from caffeine can trigger certain withdrawal symptoms like cravings, apathy, constipation, and throbbing headaches.
So the best course of action in this case would be to limit the intake of caffeine. When consumed in moderation, it speeds up our metabolism and also increases the breakdown of fat, thus freeing fatty acids, which are used in energy production during exercise. It can also increase stamina and help in fighting diseases like diabetes and Parkinson's disease.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.