In today’s world, lots of people rely on caffeine to get them through the day, so perhaps it is the most commonly used psychoactive drug. It is found in a wide range of foods from coffee and tea to chocolate and cola. More than 60 plants also contain naturally in their leaves, seeds and fruits. Caffeine is flavorless so it is frequently used as additive in over the counter pain relievers, appetite suppressants and cold remedies.
Side Effects of Caffeine
Caffeine is water soluble, so it is absorbed and distributed by your body very quickly. Due to dissolving easily in water, caffeine passes easily through cell membranes and it is very difficult for your body to cleanse caffeine from the cells. This means that the caffeine taken from a single cup of coffee can be found in any of your cells for several days. Whether it is obtained from coffee, soda or chocolate, caffeine is a stimulant that spread throughout all of your body’s cells and travels directly into your bloodstream from the stomach, and then moves rapidly to the brain, reproductive organs and the liver. When it reaches to the brain, it stimulates the brain and nervous system.
Small amounts of caffeine can be beneficial for the short-term relief of fatigue or drowsiness, but there can be also some adverse side effects. So, you may be unaware of the damage to your body with your double shot in the morning or your coke with lunch. Here are some of the potential side effects of caffeine.
1. Rapid Heart Rate
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system. Therefore, your heart will be under more pressure to keep up with this stimulated body state. When this happens, your heart rate may accelerate to accommodate the extra work of your body. This situation can occur as soon as 15 minutes after ingesting caffeine. Moreover, having a rapid heart rate can be dangerous, especially for people who suffer from irregular heart rhythms or have a heart condition.
Caffeine prevents the activity of your brain’s one of natural tranquilizers which is called adenosine. When its levels are high enough, you will sleep automatically. So, caffeine restrains your ability to fall asleep by restraining adenosine activity. Moderate amount of caffeine helps keep you awake and alert but you would not be surprised that having too much of it could interfere with your sleep patterns.
For this reason, you better not consume caffeine shortly before going to bed since this could keep you awake even longer. Even if you have not consumed caffeine recently, consuming a lot throughout the day can still affect your ability to fall asleep at night. For some people, this turns into a vicious cycle. When they do not get enough rest at night, they tend to rely more on caffeine during the day.
3. Frequent Urination and Dehydration
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it helps your body to get rid of fluids. To do this, it increases the frequency of urination, especially when people consume their caffeine through a drink like coffee, soda, coke or tea. Caffeine raises urination frequency because it raises blood flow through the kidneys and expands the blood vessels, making the kidneys produce more waste.
Moreover, excess amount of caffeine intake can contribute to dehydration, especially when you are not drinking enough water. You should be careful when consuming caffeine during hot weather or high levels of physical activity because it encourages your body to lose more fluids than normal.
The diuretic effects of caffeine not only cause frequent urination but also may lead to nausea for some people. In some rare cases, individuals may even throw up after consuming too much caffeine.
Although caffeine can rarely relieve headache symptoms, the overuse of caffeine can lead to headaches and migraines. The combination of diuretic and stimulant effects through the body can cause the receptors in the brain to become overloaded and this causes headaches.
6. Increased Anxiety
Some individuals do not cope well with the stimulant effects of caffeine. Increased adrenaline hormones, rapid heart rate and heightened senses can develop an overwhelming sensation in some people and make them feel anxious. In more severe cases, some people even experience symptoms of depression as a result of having too much caffeine.
7. Muscle Tremors and Spasms
Many people experience some kind of body tremor or cramps after a high volume or prolonged use of caffeine in the body. They are side effects of the overstimulation of the nervous system. A person who quits caffeine consumption after having a long-term dependency on it might even suffer from these spasms and jitteriness.
8. Decreased Bone Mass Density
Caffeine prevents the body’s ability to absorb calcium. In the long term, consuming high amounts of caffeine may reduce a person’s bone mass density and also accelerate the bone loss. In severe cases, an individual could even develop osteoporosis because of the significantly reduced bone mass density.
9. Breast Lumps and Tissue Cysts
People who consume too much caffeine could find that they are developing one or more painful cysts in their breasts, which is also known as fibrocystic breast disease. According to a study, women who consumed 31–250 mg of caffeine/day had a 1.5-fold increase in the odds of developing fibrocystic breast disease and women who drank over 500 mg/day had a 2.3-fold increase in the odds of developing cysts.
In some cases, these lumps disappear on their own when you simply cut back on your caffeine intake.
10. Nutrition and Mineral Malabsorption
People who consume caffeine regularly may have difficulty in getting enough minerals in their diet, even if they consume mineral rich foods or use supplements. Because, caffeine affects iron absorption in your stomach and your kidneys’ ability to hold calcium, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals.
11. Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Caffeine relaxes the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter and this can either cause or worsen acid reflux and heartburn. Lower esophageal sphincter, which is a small muscle, should remain tightly closed. So, when you’ve eaten, it prevents the contents of your stomach from coming back into the esophagus and burning its delicate lining with hydrochloric acid. However, if it is relaxed because of the coke, coffee, tea, high caffeine energy drinks or other caffeinated drinks, heartburn and acid reflux will show up.
12. Increased Blood Pressure
Your adrenal glands release more adrenaline because of the caffeine. And this causes your blood pressure to increase especially if you are already suffering from hypertension.
According to a study, people with hypertension were given 250 mg of caffeine (about 2 cup of coffees) and it was found that their blood pressure were increased for about 2-3 hours after caffeine consumption. A similar study revealed similar results from a 160 mg dose. All participants experienced a significant rise in their blood pressure and it was mostly happened in those who did not consume caffeine regularly.
13. Cardiac Arrest
High caffeine consumption causes elevated blood pressure and also has an impact as a stimulant on the cardiovascular system. This can cause a devastating outcome for people with weak hearts.
14. Stress and Tension
Consuming high amounts of caffeine can promote the release of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and noradrenaline. These hormones raise your heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels. We usually say we need to drink coffee or energy drinks to give us energy. However, for many of us, it goes further than just energy and turned into a kind of jittery tension that makes it difficult to relax. Maybe it pushes you to get through the hard work, but in the long-term, the health implications of this kind of ongoing stress are remarkable.
Moreover, caffeine is also known to interfere with gamma-aminobutyric acid metabolism. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter involved in controlling mood and stress levels and also has a relaxing effect on the gastrointestinal tract. When you consume too much caffeine, it can negatively affect both of them.
15. Stomach Ulcers
Caffeine accelerates the process of gastric emptying which can lead to highly acidic stomach contents passing into the small intestine more rapidly than normal, causing injury or ulcers. A lot of people who drink caffeinated beverages often report an upset stomach or indigestion. This mostly happens when the beverages are consumed on an empty stomach.
16. Decreased Fertility
Caffeine can reduce fertility in women. It is proven that women who regularly consume caffeinated drinks like coffee or energy drinks reduce their chances of getting pregnant. According to a study from The University of Nevada School of Medicine, caffeine can decrease a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant by about 27%. The researchers suggest that women who are trying to get pregnant should quit consuming caffeine.
17. Risk of Miscarriage
Women who are pregnant should avoid caffeine. According to a study, both men and women who drank at least two caffeinated beverages a day throughout the weeks prior to conception slightly raised the risks of a miscarriage. Similarly, women who consumed more than two daily caffeinated beverages during the first seven weeks of pregnancy were also more likely to miscarry.
18. Caffeine Allergies
Some people have caffeine sensitivity, which leads to some kind of allergic reactions in the body such as hives and pain. Although, it does not seem like a true allergy, many reports indicate that very negative symptoms are observed after consuming even the smallest amounts of caffeine.
19. Decreased Collagen Production
Caffeine restrains collagen production in the skin. This effect depends on the daily dose, but heavy caffeine consumers should be aware of its results.
Caffeine causes addiction or dependence and it starts in this way; firstly, caffeine brings the alert feeling that coffee consumers crave, and then turns into a chemical that the body needs to get in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, lethargy, and depression.
If you do not consume caffeine regularly, you will be more likely to experience the side effects listed above when you consume this stimulant. Also, if you are taking any prescription medications, do not forget to ask your doctor about any potential negative interactions with caffeine.