5 Simple Signs You’re Over Caffeinated
We’ve all been there.
It is 3 p.m. Your appetite for food and blondes is only surpassed by Rosie O’Donnell’s, so you unwisely decided to eat nine slices of extra-cheese pizza at the restaurant down the street with the hot blonde waitress. She was unimpressed, but not as unimpressed as your boss will be if you do not stop falling asleep at your cubicle. You have fallen victim to a well-studied medical phenomenon: The Food Coma.
You reach for your quick-fix: the ubiquitous energy-booster of choice — caffeine. It’s the most frequently used psychostimulant in the world. In the medical profession, this methylxanthine is administered to neonates with apnea of prematurity [Editor’s note: Read this as giving caffeine to premature babies who suffer from breathing problems. Bryan is a smart ass].
Caffeine is distributed to all parts of the body and affects your nervous system, heart, skeletal muscle, and gastrointestinal tract. However, can these can-sized cures be taken too far?
Tolerance to this amazing alkaloid builds up rapidly, so the side effects of caffeine are difficult to notice. Dr. Day-Shift is here to tell you about the symptoms that appear when you have had too many “venti frozen skinny caramel mocha lattes,” or “cups of coffee” to the rest of us:
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. When the nervous system is overstimulated, irritability can occur. This symptom is rather subjective and can vary from person to person. But if you strangle your boss after she tells you to stop blasting Molly Hatchet at your desk, then you may need to reduce your caffeine intake.
If your heart beats start to feel abnormal, you are experiencing palpitations. Caffeine can cause tachycardia and cardiac arrhythmias, which are an increased heart rate and an irregular heart rate, respectively. Caffeine is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor. When it binds to the surface of heart muscle cells, it increases the intracellular level of cAMP. Through a second messenger system, this leads to increased contractility of the heart muscle. So if your heart starts to blow up like Tiger’s phone when Elin is out of town, then you may need to reduce your caffeine intake.
Caffeine has a half-life that varies from user to user. The range of half-lives in most people is four-to-twelve hours. If you have four cups of coffee at work, then eight hours later when you are trying to sleep you could still have “two cups of coffee worth” of caffeine floating around in your body. Stimulants do not make for great sleep aids, so avoid caffeine in the afternoon if you want a night of rest.
Caffeine is used in many anti-headache medications. However, acute caffeine intoxication and caffeine withdrawal can both precipitate headaches.
If you are a regular caffeine user and cannot get your fix, then you may develop headaches. In this instance, you should gradually wean yourself off of caffeine.
Studies have shown that caffeine may increase gastric acid secretion. This can lead to stomach ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease. It can also lead to a condition that I informally refer to as “The Gurgs,” in which the victim is suddenly crippled by a painful urge to poop.
What have we learned? In safe doses, caffeine is a great performance-enhancer. When we consume too much, it transforms us into an irritable, pulse-pounding poopaholic. It is the humble opinion of this medical professional to enjoy caffeine in reasonable amounts. If you need a little boost, enjoy a cup of joe. As my momma always says:
“Anything is better than an addiction to crack.”