Is Caffeine Addictive?

Many of us cannot go without our regular cup of coffee and always reach out for a caffeinated drink, such as coffee, soda or tea whenever we feel lethargic. Could this the reason be addiction to caffeine? Whether a person consumes caffeine for purpose or pleasure is a highly debated topic. People, who oppose the claim that caffeine is addictive, say that it is consumed for its taste and pleasure. Whereas, people who believe caffeine is addictive insist that caffeine is consumed to satisfy the craving for it.

According to studies, caffeine is thought to cause more of a dependency in a person rather than addiction; and people who disagree with the notion that caffeine is additive claim that people consume coffee because of its taste, pleasurable aroma and the social aspects of it.

Is Caffeine Addictive?

Does Stopping Caffeine Produce Withdrawal Symptoms?

There is no denying that prolonged use of caffeine can cause certain amount of dependency on it; however, this dependency related to caffeine is definitely not as serious as, say dependency of some type of medications or drugs; nor is caffeine dependency a big cause for concern. Stopping caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms in a person, which include:

  • Headache.
  • Decreased energy/activeness.
  • Tiredness/fatigue.
  • Decreased alertness/attentiveness.
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness.
  • Irritability.
  • Decreased satisfaction with everything.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Low mood.
  • Muzzy or foggy feeling, like not feeling clearheaded.

How Soon Can a Person Experience Withdrawal Symptoms After Stopping Caffeine?

A person usually starts to experience withdrawal symptoms of caffeine within 12 to 24 hours of stopping it and the peak intensity of symptoms occur around 22 to 50 hours. The withdrawal symptoms can persist for a couple of day to as long as 10 days.

Does Everyone Experience Withdrawal Symptoms After Stopping Caffeine? Is There Any Way to Stop Experiencing Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms?

There are some people who do not feel any difference if they start taking caffeine and there are also some people who do not feel any change if they stop their intake of caffeine. Those people who feel any of the above-mentioned withdrawal symptoms should always gradually decrease their caffeine intake. This will help the body to slowly adjust to lesser to zero amount of caffeine.

Is Caffeine a Diuretic?

Caffeine is considered to act as a diuretic by many experts; however, there are some studies, which claim that caffeine does not have any effect on the fluid balance of the body. However, it can be safely said that Caffeine can act as a mild diuretic. Whether caffeine acts as a diuretic or not also depends on the amount of caffeine consumed and the tolerance level of the person drinking it. For example, a person with urinary incontinence may experience an increased "urgency" to urinate after consumption of a caffeinated beverage.

What is Caffeine Intoxication?

Caffeine intoxication is a clinical syndrome where a person experiences the following symptoms after or during a recent consumption of caffeine: nervousness, restlessness, excitement, flushed face, insomnia, gastrointestinal complaints and diuresis are some of the symptoms of caffeine intoxication. People who are not used to daily consumption of caffeine are at an increased risk for developing caffeine intoxication. Other than this, massive amount of caffeine, which is more than 10 g can be life threatening.

Does Caffeine Help in Losing Weight?

There are mixed studies regarding the scientific evidence about caffeine helping losing weight. There are various types of weight loss supplements in the market, which contain caffeine for its appetite suppressant, energy enhancement, and "fat-burning" properties.

It can be safely said that caffeine is associated with slightly greater weight loss, higher fat oxidation and thermogenesis. However, there are some studies, which claim that caffeine can contribute to weight gain by increasing the level of stress hormones in the body. Research is still on regarding the role of caffeine in weight loss.

Does Caffeine Cause Bone Loss?

According to studies, excessive caffeine leads to decrease bone density, especially in elderly postmenopausal women. However, this negative effect of the caffeine can be counteracted by adding milk to the beverage, which has caffeine.

Is Caffeine Safe during Pregnancy?

The relationship between caffeine intake and pregnancy is not very clear. There is not much evidence to show that caffeine can cause miscarriages or any other type of harm during pregnancy. However, too much of anything is a bad thing and for this reason, caffeine should be taken in very limited quantities (1 to 2 cups of coffee) during pregnancy.

Is Caffeine Safe for Children?

With the advent of hanging out at coffee shops being a new trend and the emergence of coffee shops, which appeal to adolescents, the new generation is exposed to more amount of caffeine than before. There is an increase in caffeine-containing products, which are targeted for children. This has led to increased caffeine consumption for kids. There is clear data regarding caffeine consumption and the effects of caffeine consumption when gone over a certain limit in adults, but there is no such research done on children yet.

Almost all the elementary schools, middle/junior high, and senior high schools have vending machines or have canteens where the children and adolescents can purchase foods and beverages, which contain caffeine. Children these days tend to consume more caffeine containing beverages than milk, which is definitely not good for their health, especially at a growing age. Other than this caffeine is also being added to gum, water, potato chips, candy bars and even water!

Because of all the easy availability of these products for children, there is a very real risk for a child to consume fatal amounts of caffeine without anyone's knowledge. There is some evidence that children who have consumed high doses of caffeine were more restless, hyperactive, had difficulty in concentrating, decreased energy, feeling energetic and tend to get have outbursts of temper. Other than this, the high sugar content in beverages, which contain caffeine, also increases the risk of obesity in a child. So overall, it is better to avoid caffeine in children and concentrate on giving them more healthy substitutes such as milk, fresh juices and fruits in place of cola and candy.

Are There Any Health Benefits of Caffeine?

There are some health benefits of Caffeine and some of the common benefits, which compel people to be a regular coffee drinker, include: improved concentration, alertness, feelings of sociability, clear-headedness and energy. Other potential health benefits of caffeine include alleviating certain types of headache, improvement in asthma in some patients, along with reducing the risk of the following conditions: liver disease, Parkinson's disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.

Research is still going on regarding these health benefits and on finding other benefits of caffeine. However, it is important take caffeine in moderation as too much of caffeine also produces adverse effects in a person.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 7, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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