Drinking too much coffee or energy drinks can have an adverse effect, sometimes even resulting in a caffeine overdose. If you've had more than the usual dose of your favorite morning brew or guzzled one too many energy drinks, you might be wondering if there is a way to flush the body of caffeine.
The good news? By substituting water for caffeinated beverages, you can naturally flush caffeine from your body, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The not so good news is this is not a magical cure, and your body gets rid of caffeine on its own, with the amount of time varying for each person.
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Caffeine Overdose Concerns
Consuming too much caffeine, to the point of an overdose, is a real possibility. In general, a healthy adult should not exceed 400 milligrams per day of caffeine, which is equivalent to four or five cups of brewed coffee, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is considered a level that is not generally associated with harmful side effects.
That said, some people are more sensitive, and may find 400 milligrams to be a level that triggers caffeine side effects. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic says there are certain medications and herbal supplements that may interact negatively with caffeine including, ephedrine, which is a decongestant, theophylline, which helps to open up bronchial airways, and echinacea.
Some of the more common side effects of too much caffeine include:
- Racing or fast heartbeat
- Increase in blood pressure
- Jitters and anxiousness
- Nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea
- Severe headache
Most of these caffeine side effects will subside by eliminating the source and waiting it out. Typically, blood levels of caffeine peak within an hour of consumption and remain there for three to six hours.
However, the FDA says toxic effects, such as seizures can occur with rapid consumption of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine, leading to a caffeine overdose. If this happens, you need to seek medical attention immediately. While there is no one specific treatment for a caffeine overdose, a physician may administer medication to address agitation, seizures, or cardiac dysfunction.
Cutting Back on Caffeine
If you're tired of getting the caffeine jitters, you might be wondering if it's time to cut back on your morning cup of coffee. The good news is you can reduce your intake and minimize the caffeine side effects by cutting back gradually.
One simple change you can make right away is to swap out your caffeinated beverages for a decaf version. To make this a gradual change, consider doing this for some of your drinks. For example, if you're used to drinking three cups of coffee, keep two with caffeine, and make one decaf.
Read more: How Many Cups of Coffee Can You Drink a Day?
You may also find that swapping herbal tea for coffee can help with the transition, especially if you crave something warm to drink. When it comes to cold, caffeinated beverages, always try substituting water first. Allow yourself at least two to three weeks to make this adjustment.
Cutting back gradually may still result in a few withdrawal symptoms such as an increase in headaches, irritability, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and even flu-like symptoms. Not everyone will experience symptoms though, and some people may find they last longer, especially if caffeine consumption is high.
In general, you can expect symptoms to begin around 12 to 24 hours after you cut out caffeine. Typically, they can last anywhere from two to nine days, but again, this depends on the amount of caffeine you are used to consuming.
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