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Caffeine Overdose: Can It Be Fatal?

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Caffeine is one of the most frequently consumed substances in the world. It is consumed in many forms however, coffee and tea are the most common among these. In every country and culture, coffee and tea are used in many ways and all serve the basic purpose of activating the human mind and body with an immediate boost that this natural substance provides.

But can caffeine overdose cause severe health issues like organ failure, or in worst cases, death? Let’s explore

Recently, a personal trainer was found dead due to an overdose of caffeine consumption which was roughly equivalent to 200 cups of coffee. This sounds pretty ironic as trainers are the ones who guide us against such habits that are detrimental to our long-term health. There is speculation though, that he might have consumed such an amount unknowingly, i.e. through some energy drink or a caffeine powder, maybe?

In any case, this proves that overdose of caffeine in any form can be fatal. If not fatal, it has the power to fail one or the other vital organs of the human body. In such a situation, one’s life can be much more miserable than death.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA has warned against the selling of modified versions of caffeine such as energy drinks, caffeine powders, muscle-building caffeine drinks, high-energy boosting supplements, hot chocolate drinks, over-the-counter stimulants, and other forms. Despite restrictions and strict regulations, the companies sell such products frequently as the general population is not aware of the proper dosage or the side effects of these products. Thus, a large number of people get admitted to hospitals for stomach ulcers, anxiety issues, excessive weight loss or weight gain, and cardiac issues due to uncontrolled caffeine consumption.

Here are some symptoms of caffeine overdose which must never be ignored:

  • Disrupted breathing / palpitations
  • Changes in alertness and focus
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration / Increased thirst
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Muscle twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble in sleeping

The caffeine powders, in particular, are far more dangerous than normal coffee or tea products as they can only be consumed in a limited amount at a given time. Normally, a person cannot consume more than 2 cups of coffee or tea in one sitting, as other ingredients like milk and cream may also be added. Even if they are not added, even black coffee makes a person’s stomach feel full for quite some time.

However, powdered caffeine needs a perfect measurement to be consumed. A slight measurement error, mostly when it exceeds the prescribed limits, may result in serious and immediate health issues. The same happened in the above-mentioned case study of the personal trainer; he reportedly consumed 2 grams of the powder in one go, although the recommended dose was a mere 0.01 oz (one-sixth of what he consumed)!

Going through the case of study of this fitness trainer, one can learn from it that even the most healthy people, dedicated to fitness and a healthy diet, can face such consequences if caffeine is not consumed in a moderate amount. This highlights the danger associated with caffeine and how it can turn into a fatal substance in just a second, with a single human error of judgment.

Thus, it is better to consume less than to lose one’s life over caffeine!

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