Caffeine, in moderate doses, is relatively safe for most people. But if you're experiencing any adverse side effects such as rapid heart rate, high blood pressure or numbness after drinking coffee or an energy drink, it might be time to take note of the amount of caffeine you're consuming.
Numbness is not a direct side effect of consuming caffeine. However, when combined with certain substances, or if you have a medical condition that causes numbness, you may experience numbness after consuming caffeine.
Side Effects of Caffeine
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant found in many food and drinks. Because it is a stimulant, there's a good chance you will feel some effects after consuming caffeine. Feeling more alert, less tired and full of energy are some of the more common side effects of this widely-used ingredient.
A study published in the May 2017 issue of Frontiers in Psychiatry found that caffeine reaches maximum plasma concentration 15 to 120 minutes after ingestion, which means, the effects of caffeine become noticeable anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking a product containing caffeine. However, you may continue experiencing side effects for up to six hours.
When consumed in moderate doses, you can expect to feel some changes as the caffeine goes to work on your body. Most notably, you will feel the impact it has on your central nervous system, which includes a boost of energy and feeling more alert and awake. You may also feel the urge to urinate more since caffeine is a diuretic. For some people, the effects may cause an increase in blood pressure or heartburn from the release of acid in the stomach.
The more severe or adverse side effects typically happen when you drink too much caffeine or your body is sensitive to any dose of caffeine. Experiencing caffeine numbness is not a common side effect of caffeine. However, there is a combination of ingredients that may cause some people tingling and numbness.
Numbness After Drinking Coffee
The popularity of mixing alcohol and caffeine continues to increase as more products that contain both ingredients become available to purchase. This poses a serious problem since caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol and make you feel more alert than you would otherwise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When this happens, it's not uncommon to drink more alcohol and become more impaired, which may lead to a feeling of numbness after drinking coffee. In addition to coffee, you can find alcohol in many energy drinks, which are more commonly consumed by younger drinkers.
Some people may notice their hands tingling after an energy drink or numbness in other parts of their body, such as the feet, which can also happen if you drink coffee with alcohol. This happens as a result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, otherwise known as peripheral neuropathy, which can cause weakness, numbness and pain in the hands and feet, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In addition to autoimmune diseases, diabetes and infections, alcoholism is one of the causes of neuropathies.
Recommended Amount of Caffeine
There is no evidence that caffeine directly causes numbness. However, you may experience adverse side effects from consuming too many beverages, foods or supplements containing caffeine, especially when combined with alcohol.
Following the guidelines for safe use of caffeine is the best way to avoid or reduce any adverse or dangerous side effects. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is the recommended maximum for healthy adults. This is the equivalent to about four to five cups of coffee. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have another health condition that may cause you to be more sensitive to caffeine, it's best to talk to your doctor about safe consumption.
High levels of caffeine can cause dangerous side effects like seizures. The FDA cites 1,200 milligrams as a level that may produce toxic effects. While that may seem like an impossible amount to consume in one day, reaching levels higher than the recommended amount of 400 milligrams can happen faster than you might expect. Besides coffee, there are several foods, beverages and supplements that contain caffeine, including:
- Frontiers in Psychiatry: "The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Fact Sheets - Caffeine and Alcohol"
- Mayo Clinic: "Peripheral Neuropathy"
- MedlinePlus: "Caffeine"