Caffeine Intoxication – Does Caffeine, Coffee or Strong Tea Make You Dizzy?

Caffeine Intoxication – Does Caffeine, Coffee or Strong Tea Make You Dizzy?

A recent report from University of Massachusetts Medical School says that the nation’s emergency rooms are seeing more and more cases of caffeine intoxication and caffeine overdose.

They noted 4,600 caffeine-related calls to Poison Control Centers in 2005. Of those, 2.345 required treatment in a health care facility. More than half the calls involved people under the age of 19.

too much coffee is bad for you
How much coffee is too much?

Dr. Richard Church, a UMass toxicologist and one of the study’s lead authors, said that as caffeinated drinks grow more popular in general, and as their use spills over into the ‘younger crowd’, the toxicology centers are fielding more calls to poison control – and more of those calls are of conditions serious enough that the centers recommend a visit to their local emergency room or doctor’s office, at least for observation.

Church said that for the most part, the calls that they field are for ‘mild mild symptoms’. “We’re talking about some nausea, headache, heart palpitations.” He also cited daily headaches, insomnia and anxiety as symptoms that raise people’s concerns enough that they call.

But further along the line, he continued, doctors begin to get concerned both as emergency room physicians and as toxicologists. The nausea, he says, can lead to intractable vomiting – vomiting that can’t be controlled with medications typically given for the purpose in the emergency room. Also, people who have seizure conditions or are predisposed to them can be at risk for having seizures brought on by excessive caffeine, and those with heart conditions – particularly undiagnosed heart conditions – can have spark life-threatening arrhythmia in their hearts.

How much caffeine is too much?

That’s a difficult question to answer, says Church. Some people will be fine. Since everyone metabolizes caffeine a little differently, the amount that one person drinks and is fine with can be seriously dangerous for another person. Some research suggests that five to ten grams can be a potentially lethal dose in even a young and healthy person with no existing problems.

Energy drinks are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to caffeine overdose, says Church. They’re really marketed toward the teen market, if you look at the cans and the marketing materials, even though industry spokesmen are adamant that they are marketing energy drinks to adults.

But energy drinks aren’t the only culprits for caffeine overdose. Many foods and drinks contain caffeine, and coffee shops have taken the place of the soda shoppe as after school hangouts for teens and high schoolers. Teens are the most likely to suck down the Red-Eye specials with four shots of espresso and double-brewed coffee for that extra caffeine jolt, and then wash it all down with a can of Jolt soda and a Red Bull.

What to watch for

The symptoms of caffeine intoxication or caffeine overdose include:

* restlessness
* nervousness
* excitement
* insomnia
* flushed face
* diuresis (increased urinary output)
* gastrointestinal disturbance
* muscle twitching
* talking or thinking in a rambling manner
* tachycardia (speeded-up heartbeat) or disturbances of heart rhythm
* periods of inexhaustibly
* psychomotor agitation

People have reported ringing in the ears or seeing flashes of light at doses of caffeine above 250 mg. Profuse sweating and diarrhea have also been reported. Doses of caffeine higher than 10 g may produce respiratory failure, seizures, and eventually death.

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  1. megan says

    I started drinking coffee in order to stay awake on my drive to and from work. It wasn’t working that well anymore so I switched to Starbucks espresso roast that you buy at the store. For two days I poisoned myself with it and had no idea why I was dizzy, nauseated, had jumbled thoughts, and get faint and flush. I thought Ihad caught a stomach bug, the next day I began wondering if I was pregnant! Until a coworker mentioned coffee! ! Ugh. There should be warning labels!

  2. Gabriel says

    Personally I hate caffeine…each time I drink green tea, ice tea or coffee I get dizzy… I remember last time when I decided to try all of them (tea, redbull and coffee) I didn’t slept for 4 days in a row…lol my heart was pumping rally fast… I tought I was going to die! :D I don’t know how many grams I took but all I can say watch out!

  3. Abe says

    Ummm… Yeah, this is really scary. I drank a can of Burn (energy drink, 500ml can contains 160mg caffeine) yesterday. That was trying to stay awake for school after about 24 hours of no sleep. After that, we went for a trip up a mountain, and I noticed I wasn’t as tired as I should have been. Also, after about 10 hours of sleep, I woke up, not tired at all, and after reading up on caffeine (38 hours without sleep and not tired makes me suspicious), I checked my heartbeat, and found I have about 115bpm.

    And some information so it’s easier to know how bad the symptoms are: 14yo, 110lbs, 5’7″

    Anyone able to explain how only one can of Burn was this effective?

  4. Lipp says

    I’ve been very sensitive to caffiene for about 5 or 6 years (I get jittery). Recently,I have been feeing dizzy after having a large caffienated soda. I thought there was someting wrong with me! I didn’t know dizziness was a side effect. I think I’m done with caffiene now.

  5. Jesse says

    Most days I have about 200 mg caffeine. All it does is calm me down. I had a caffeine pill and an energy drink the other day, which all up is 270mg caffeine and I just sat there, staring at one spot.

    Caffeine has the opposite effect on me.

    And Brooke, i’ve never had over 2 grams of caffeine in a day and I’m really addicted. It’s doubtful you had 6 grams of caffeine in a day. That is an amazing amount.

  6. Brooke says

    When Im mad or upset i grab my phone to call my sister and grab some caffeine. ITs like my anti depressant of sorts. When ever were together we drink alot of it. She deffinatly is “addicted” to it. She cant go 7 days with out it. Getting intoxicated by it can be really fun. The excitment the twitching, the nonstop laughing, not being able to sleep. I’m normal the one who stutters.

    She’ll have like 3 cans of it and call me at the most random moments SOOOOO hyper. I really get worried about her. I dont think I’ve ever gotten over 6 grams of it. Her. I really dont know. We had to test her for diabetes. My parents hate it Soda because of the amount of sugar. And they hate energy drinks.

    MY family situation is kinda messed up. She lives with my nana and papa who have So much soda its not even thinkable. She always stocks me up and I just hide it in my closet :P. I dont it that often, well, I dont know what you count as often. But about once or twice a week I get high up there. After a long day its fun. Then crashing afterwards is really easy

  7. Lisa says

    Natalie, that is interesting. I, too, might only one one small iced chai tea, per day, and almost every time I do, I get dizzy spells (vertigo issues). I’m glad I’m not the only one. I never used to have the problem and it’s very frustrating. I love my chai. I think the tea is not more than 50 mg. of caffeine, either. I’d like to know why it affects us that way?

  8. Natalie e says

    Even one cup of coffee makes me sick. I don’t drink it very often, but if I have coffee three days in a row and one cup per day I get dizzy spells and bad headaches. I almost fell over one time.

  9. larry jacobs says

    Interesting. Makes you wonder how much anxiety could being easily taken care of by telling folks to switch to decaf, or lay off.

    I’ve notice some dizziness after a hard workout if I drink coffee before, very rarely but it does happen. When it does I know it is time to slow down and drink decaf.

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