Safety Report: Dangers of Too Much Caffeine - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Safety Report: Dangers of Too Much Caffeine

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It's the most common addictive drug and it's what keeps most of us fueled for work or running family errands.  Ninety percent of Americans consume caffeine - from coffee to chocolate, energy shots to soda - every single day.  But too much caffeine or cutting it out cold turkey can cause big health risks.

The frightening fact is too much caffeine can be dangerous.

Dr. Christopher Holstege, director of University of Virginia's medical toxicology division, said, "Could you over-caffeinate yourself?  You could."

Caffeine is like any drug.  It's addictive and dangerous in large doses.  Holstege stated, "You can build up to it slowly or take a large amount and notice the signs and symptoms."

Two to four cups of coffee a day is fine for most healthy adults.  More than that?  Consider cutting back or suffer the consequences.  "Being revved up, tremulous, can't sleep, diarrhea, just anxious," said Holstege.

Research finds men are more likely than women to experience the side effects, but your body can build up a tolerance.  Holstege says it's gotten worse with the easy availability of energy drinks that give you a quick boost. 

Holstege stated, "The other problem we've seen arise is that people take so much caffeine and other stimulants that they can't get to sleep at night and want to have something to help them sleep at night."

If you're trying to cut back on caffeine, don't drop it cold turkey.  That can cause negative side effects, including headaches and queasiness.

"Drinking in the morning as you're starting to wake up," said Holstege.  "Using it during the day time and in the evenings taper it off.  Go with a non-caffeinated beverage, for example, so that at nighttime you can sleep."

Holstege advised, "Everything in moderation.  Caffeine is an evil thing not to have at all, but certainly moderation."

An energy shot inhalant went on the market earlier this year, and is already garnering warnings from doctors and demands from lawmakers for the Food and Drug Administration to review its safety.  Click here for more information.

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