What Happens In A Caffeine Overdose And How To Manage It?

It is estimated that 90% of the population in the world consumes caffeine in one form or the other. Being an addictive drug that stimulates brain functioning, it functions the same way amphetamines, cocaine and heroin work but milder. Caffeine is not only found in a glass of coffee but also in OTC drugs that will keep you awake, certain carbonated drinks, teas, chocolates, coffee, energy drinks and workout supplements. You are addicted to caffeine if you are one among the many who need to have a cup of coffee or tea to kickstart your day.

When we end up consuming more than 5-6 cups of caffeinated beverages (500-600 mg of caffeine), chances are that we are going to suffer an overdose. Researchers claim that although caffeine overdose is not very common, an increase in consumption of caffeinated beverages along with OTC drugs can put you at a fatal risk.1


Symptoms Of A Caffeine Overdose

jitters and rapid heart rate in caffeine overdose

The initial symptoms of a caffeine overdose include dizziness, thirst, headache, irritability, headache, fever, and diarrhea. However, if the symptoms become too intense, they often show up as the following.

  • Breathlessness
  • Jitters
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and delirium
  • Rapid heart rate with or without chest pain
  • Palpitations and sweating
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements
  • Convulsions  
  • Insomnia

Steps To Manage A Caffeine Overdose

seek medical attention for caffeine overdose

If you’ve mild symptoms of a caffeine overdose then helping your body eliminate the excess caffeine faster by following the steps below is the best way to manage it.

  1. Drink lots of water to flush out all the caffeine by urination
  2. Go for a brisk walk or a quick run if you feel jittery or at least take some deep breaths
  3. Have low-sugar, high fiber foods rich in potassium like bananas, dark leafy grains, and whole-grain crackers

If the symptoms are pretty serious, seek medical help immediately so that you receive expert care in flushing out the caffeine from your system. The doctor will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure to ensure that you don’t go into cardiac arrhythmia. Agents like activated charcoal or gastric lavages are sometimes used if caffeine has already entered your digestive system.2

How Much Caffeine Is Enough?

keep caffeine consumption within limits


Being a psychostimulant, people who take caffeine daily develop tolerance to it. Therefore, it doesn’t affect everyone alike. It’s been estimated that an average, healthy adult can have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. Children shouldn’t be given foods or beverages in caffeine and teens shouldn’t consume more than 100 mg per day.3

7 Ways To Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

how to cut back on caffeine intake

  • Keep track of how many cups of caffeinated beverages you have in a day
  • Don’t have more than 3 cups a day
  • Go for decaf or caffeine-free beverages
  • Adopt portion control by drinking from small cups
  • Don’t buy OTC pills with caffeine without consulting a doctor
  • If you get sleepy at work, find ways to stay awake like going for a walk or deep breathing
  • Never have caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks all at once as that can put you at risk of an overdose

Nonetheless, caffeine is not bad for health, especially with its proven health benefits in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and even stroke.4 However, it’s important to keep in mind that having too much of anything is not good. Moderation is crucial especially when it comes to caffeine!