What is it?
First Aid
Safety Tips

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a stimulant commonly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. It is also in some dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications.

Energy drink cansPeople often take caffeine in order to stay awake or focus on a task. They may drink coffee, tea or energy drinks or take medications like NoDoz.

Other drugs that contain caffeine, such as Excedrin, are used to treat headaches.

A moderate amount of caffeine is not a problem for most people, but it can harmful if used excessively. In addition, some people should avoid or limit caffeine, including people who:

Also, mixing caffeine with alcohol can be dangerous.

What are the effects of caffeine?

Caffeine can make you feel more awake, keep you from falling asleep and help you concentrate. It can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. It is also a diuretic, which means it may make you pee more often.

Caffeine is safe for most people most of the time, but it can be harmful if someone has too much.

If you take too much caffeine, you may:

  • Feel sick to your stomach or get diarrhea
  • Get a headache
  • Feel dizzy
  • Feel shaky
  • Feel anxious, nervous or irritable
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Feel like your heart is beating too fast

In serious cases, you could have chest pain or have a heart attack, stroke or seizure.

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol, such as Red Bull and vodka, can be dangerous. Caffeine speeds up your brain and nerves, but alcohol slows them down. The caffeine can make you feel like the alcohol is not affecting you as much, which can lead you to drink more than you can handle. You may feel like you are okay to drive when you are really not.

What can you do about caffeine poisoning?

If someone has taken too much caffeine, or has taken caffeine in a way that could be harmful, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat now or text POISON to 85511.

If someone is having chest pain, has passed out or is not breathing, call 911 right away.

How can I use caffeine safely?

Talk to your health care provider about your caffeine use, if you:

Avoid caffeine while playing sports or doing other things that raise your heart rate and blood pressure.

Be aware of the number of caffeinated drinks you have each day and how much caffeine is in them.

Do not mix caffeine energy drinks with alcohol.

Always read the label on your medications and know what the active ingredients are. If you are taking a medication that contains caffeine, talk to your health care provider about whether you can have drinks or additional medications that contain caffeine.

If you are concerned about how much caffeine you are getting, your health care provider can help you figure out how much caffeine is safe for you.

Last Updated: Friday July 15th 2016