Caffeine is a bitter psychoactive stimulant drug used in products that we consume. This article provides some information on the symptoms that are observed due to its withdrawal and the ways in which one can work around it.
Caffeine is a psychoactive central nervous system stimulant drug. It was first discovered in 1819, by a German chemist, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. It is a chemical compound found in coffee, and also in beans, leaves, and fruits of some plants in varying quantities. It is extracted from coffee beans, leaves of the tea bush, kola nut, yerba mate, guarana berries, and the yaupon holly. More than 90% American adults consume this stimulant in beverages such as coffee, tea, and various soft drinks.
As a stimulant drug, it acts upon the nervous system altering brain function, that results in positive as well as negative changes in one’s mood, behavior, perception, and consciousness. Its use and the quantity is unregulated and legalized in most jurisdictions world over. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is listed as a ‘multiple-purpose generally recognized as safe food substance‘.
As the consumption of caffeine laced foods and beverages increases, it stimulates the cortex of the brain, thus, heightening the intensity of mental activities. Depending upon an individual’s weight, build, and tolerance levels, it affects each person differently, and for different durations of time, though these effects stay on for 4 to 8 hours after consumption. However, this feeling of alertness would fade away in a short while, thereby replacing it with drowsiness, fatigue, high levels of anxiety, etc.
To counter this effect, one tends to consume more caffeine products. When this habit tends to go out of control, one would find it difficult to get by without that cup of coffee or other caffeine items, hence, resulting in an addiction. When this habit starts affecting an individual emotionally and physically, it is necessary to get rid of this habit before it progresses into a serious health complication.
Our brain starts to adapt to the continual presence of caffeine by substantially increasing the number of adenosine receptors in the central nervous system. In time it requires a relative increase in its dose to sustain alertness and other mental activities, which can often culminate in an overdose. However, when a sudden reduction in the intake occurs, it effectively increases the normal physiological effects of adenosine, resulting in withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere between 12 to 20 hours after the last dose.
A severe headache is often the first exhibited symptom associated with this withdrawal. Fatigue, restlessness, and a feeling of hopelessness is also commonly observed among those who are resisting its intake. Irritation, mood instability, and depression, sometimes accompanied with nausea and muscle stiffness may also occur.
Some people experience difficulty in sleeping, while some just feel sleepy and exhausted throughout the day. Depression, heightened anxiety, and accelerated heartbeat may also occur. Further, it includes drowsiness, lethargy, trembling, and reduced concentration. In order to reduce the severity of these symptoms, it is advisable to ease off caffeine over a period of 7-15 days by reducing its consumption. It’s best to reduce and stop its intake, and then regulate its use.
These symptoms of withdrawal can last anywhere, from a week to a month, depending upon the severity of one’s addiction. This addiction, unlike that of other substances, is not difficult to come off, and once is done, there should be a moderation in the consumption of the same.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.