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Signs of Too Much Coffee

author image Alex O'Meara
A journalist and writer since 1987, Alex O'Meara has worked for the "Baltimore Sun," City News Bureau of Chicago, "Newsday" and NBC. Author of the healthcare expose, "Chasing Medical Miracles: The Promise and Perils and Clinical Trials," O'Meara has completed several marathons and holds a B.A. in English from Long Island University.
Signs of Too Much Coffee
A woman is pouring a man coffee. Photo Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

While there's nothing like a good cup o' joe, too much of a good thing can be bad. That's why it's important to realize when you've overindulged in caffeine. This holds true no matter what kind of coffee drinker you may be. Whether you normally have one cup first thing in the morning, or two cups when you're hitting an afternoon slump, knowing the signs of having had too much can help keep you from getting sick.

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How Much

The Mayo Clinic says moderate coffee intake is two to four regular cups per day. That equals 200 to 300 mg of caffeine. Drinking that much coffee throughout the day will still have the desired effect of revving up your central nervous system and waking you up. It will still increase your ability to focus and concentrate. When you exceed two to four cups of coffee a day though, you start riding a neurological roller coaster.

Immediate Effects

When you go over 500 mg of caffeine — between five and six cups — you start to show immediate signs of its effects. You'll feel jittery and nervous. Your heartbeat will increase and you might perspire. You'll also talk a little faster than usual. Your stomach may become upset. You may start being irritable toward people and acting stressed out. You may even start to have muscle spasms if you've really overdone it. These signs may be followed by a period of intense fatigue as the caffeine wears off.

Long Term Effects

Drinking too much coffee over time will alter how your body functions. You can recognize these signs and adjust your intake, accordingly. If you have insomnia, restlessness and overall decreased energy, for instance, you may be drinking too much coffee. The "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" cites a study performed at the Institute of Pharmacology, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany where researchers fed mice caffeine and tracked their ability to swim every day over the course of six weeks. While coffee is known to increase energy, over time the mice were less able to swim than at the start of the study.

Cutting Back or Quitting

Cutting back on coffee, if you're drinking too much, can be unpleasant. Your symptoms will most likely include headaches and tiredness. You may also experience anxiousness, constipation and an overall feeling of being mentally slower than normal. That's because the caffeine that was causing your brain neurons to fire quickly is now decreased or absent. Like cutting down on or quitting any drug, you'll go through a period of withdrawal. It should last a week or two, according to Then, you'll return to feeling normal — or at least the way you did before you developed an addiction to caffeine.

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