When work and personal demands start to pile and continue to rise demanding people to perform faster and more efficiently than their usual required pace, people’s body also demands them to put it to rest. Consequently, each individual cling to various ways to manage stress in order to meet what is expected of them. Others develop or find new hobbies that will temporarily put their occupied minds to rest. Others withdraw and isolate themselves when stress becomes too much. Others just don’t stop completely, benefiting from minimal rest in between work.
Caffeine from coffee and other products is probably one of the most popular dose people depend on to ‘get them going’ and to ‘do the talking’ especially in the morning. Others find it comforting because of its stimulating aroma. Others benefit from it because of the taste. However caffeine is benefiting people through beverages, the hype is because of its effect in our bodies, alertness and productivity. An average adult needs a minimum of 6 hours of sleep while students should at least have 8 hours but oftentimes, these hour requirements are not met. As a result, they turn to caffeine.
However, too much of something is harmful too. Majority of people are not aware of the fact that caffeinated beverages can cause caffeine intoxication and people who develop this as a habit are suffering from one class of substance abuse disorder. The symptoms may not be as worse as other substances’, they are enough to impair an individual’s performance. Caffeine works by stimulating our brain therefore it makes us alert for an extended period of time by increasing levels of neurotransmitters that regulate our mood, sleep, and specific physiological responses.
According to American Psychiatric Association, 250 mg (2 ½ cups of coffee) can cause caffeine intoxication manifested by palpitations, irregular heartbeats, increased in pulse rate, fatigue that worsens during the day, anxiety, nervousness, irritability, exaggerated startle response, facial flushing, disorganized thoughts and process, dehydration, hyperactivity, gross muscle tremors, muscle cramping and twitching (restless leg syndrome), and sleep disturbances. People who are caffeine intoxicated are advised to take a rest and to increase water intake because caffeine has the tendency to shrink our cells. Therefore, it will dehydrate the body. Degree of effects depends on age, body size, and volume of regular intake.
Caffeine abusers can be tested for caffeine levels in the blood. In addition to this, hyperthyroidism and cardiac irregularities should be ruled out through thyroid studies and electrocardiogram (ECG). It is because caffeine can contribute to increase in blood pressure and pulse rate. If not intervened promptly, these can lead to serious damages in the heart. Still, diagnosing persons with possible caffeine intoxication is the call of the doctor.
Treatment would include avoidance of all forms of caffeine. Caffeine can be found in coffees, over the counter drugs for headache like aspirin and acetaminophen, cocoa, cola and other soft drinks, chocolate milk, tea, and dark chocolates. Even decaffeinated coffee contains 3-5 mg of caffeine per cup. A cup is between 180-240 mL. People should bear in mind that amidst all forms of relaxation, sleep is still the most genuine form and is the best. Self-medicating at the slightest feeling of pain should also be the last resort because over the counter drugs have different interactions with the other medications we are taking and the food we are eating.
On the other hand, signs and symptoms also occur with abrupt stopping of caffeine intake. These signs and symptoms are as follows: headache, nausea and vomiting, jitteriness, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, drowsiness, depression, poor concentration, poor performance on mental tasks, and caffeine craving. Signs and symptoms may start within few hours of normal caffeine consumption and peak within 1-2 days, and may persist for up to two weeks. However, these are expected but will subside for a short period of time.
A person that has recovered from caffeine intoxication should be encouraged to explore other stress-reduction techniques like meditation and deep breathing to manage the stress caused by withdrawal and the one that caused the person to suck up on excessive caffeine intake. Basically, it is normal for people to feel stress. However, too much of it is not healthy. Consequently, it is important to bear in mind to manage effectively loads in school and workplace that can be quite draining and time-consuming as stress will not only make you cling to substances but can also pose risks to the normal functioning of cells and the vital organs of the body like brain, kidneys, lungs, and the heart.
- Keltner, N., Bostrom, C., McGuness, T. Psychiatric Nursing 6th Edition. 2012
- Lippincott Williams and Wilikins Straight A’s in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 2006
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