Is caffeine harmful?

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Mom: "You can't have coke before you go to bed."

Me: "Mom, it's 6 o'clock, we haven't even had dinner."

Mom: "I don't like you drinking caffeinated beverages anyway, so no."

This is a typical conversation in my house. Not that my Mom is a crazy health conscious hippy, but she does have a stigma against caffeine. I've never been interested enough to wonder why, sorry Mom, but now I'm wondering. How harmful can caffeine be?

Caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant drug, is consumed habitually by 80-90% of the North American. But is it safe? After all, we thought smoking had no damaging effects until fairly recently. And with the growing energy drink market, should we really be consuming caffeine at all?

Caffeine does have the potential to be helpful for certain ailments. Headaches and the side effects of certain diseases have been found to be alleviated through caffeine usage. But most of us do not consume caffeine to help our ailments. Most of us drink coffee, and use energy drinks for means of staying awake. As I said in my last blog about sleep and caffeine, caffeine is a stimulant. In addition to disrupting sleep cycles there can be much more serious effects.

Harmful Caffeine.png


Caffeine Addiction/Dependence:

While caffeine is not the most terrible drug, it is still a drug! This means that it has addictive qualities. This can lead to the development of caffeine tolerance. This means that over time you have a decreased responsiveness after repeated exposure. That's why you have to add that extra shot of express. Then when you try to quit, you can run into caffeine withdrawal. My Mom gave up coffee and it caused her to get horrible headaches.

Caffeine Intoxication:

Common features include anxiety, restlessness, excitement, insomnia, upset stomach, and muscle twitching. In worse scenarios fever, irritability, tremors, sensory disturbances, tachypnea, and headaches have been known to result. High dose caffeine toxicity is very rarely fatal. However, caffeine can be lethal at very high doses. Combined with other health problems, the high amounts of caffeine (especially in energy drinks) have caused fatalities.

Are the effects of caffeine really that terrible? No. But if you're a rational person you might want to cut back on those trips to Starbucks. If you do need help you should reach out to John Hopkins. Researchers at the medical school are looking for patients to perform studies.

So just like that hamster kill the lights bit; should you stay away from caffeine? Careful now, do you really agree with my Mother?

1 Comment

My mom often told me the same thing and when I realized that caffeine kept me up I opted not to drink coffee. I do think that sometimes caffeine is necessary, especially when you have to pull an all-nighter. So if you enjoy coffee you just have to limit the amount you drink. Do you drink a lot of coffee?

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