Medications and Caffeine can be Harmful

Photo by Chevanon Photography on

Do any of you remember when your parents would tell you that you were too young to drink coffee? Or, if you were lucky enough to get a cup of coffee 3/4 of the cup would be milk? Did you ever wonder why? Was that just something a parent would say or was there more to that?

We should look back to those days. The days before cola was our go to drink. Or when candy bars were only a special treat. What did our parents know?

True, our lifestyle was more simple back then. Children being given caffeine was almost unheard of. But now? Personally, I don’t know how parents or kids survive the hectic lifestyle of this 21st century. Not only are our kids involved in every extra curricular activity known to man, they have hours of homework plus jobs.

I asked various people ages 16-35 years old, what gets you through the day. They all said the same thing.  CAFFEINE!! Mainly, coffee, soda and energy drinks with a candy bar tossed in here and there.

One young lady told me, she starts her day by waking up at 4 a.m. just to drink a pot of coffee before getting ready for school. Then a soda or two, with a candy bar during school. When she goes to work after school, she takes at least one or two cans of an energy drink to get her through her shift. When she gets home, maybe another soda to help her get her homework done. By the time she gets to bed it’s 11p.m. or later. This poor kid is getting by on a caffeine buzz and 5 hours of sleep!

I also interviewed a nurse that works on a 12 hour night shift. Working nights, her day starts by leaving work at 6 a.m. She gets home in time to get her children up and out the door for school. She goes to bed around 10 a.m. and wakes up around 2:30 p.m. She showers, has a bite to eat along with a high caffeine soda and jumps in the car so she can pick up her kids from school. On the way home she runs daily errands and then stops to pick up a few cans of an energy drink. Once home, she gets the kids on their homework, pops the top of an energy drink and works on making supper. She then gets ready for work, pops another energy drink and heads off to work. When asked how many energy drinks she drinks on a single night, she said, anywhere between 4 to 6, but has been as high as 9! Can you imagine 9 energy drinks a night?Big business wants you to think that energy drinks are harmless. That drinking a 16 ounce can is the same as 2 cups of coffee. Some say, energy drinks give you wings! Do you know WHY they give you wings? It’s because caffeine is actually a “legal” drug with the same simaliarities as an illegal drug like coke.

SAY WHAT?? Yes, it’s true!

They both work in a similar way, signaling the mind to release adrenaline and create a pleasant feeling. Yes, cocaine is from a different plant and yes, it is much stronger and is mind altering. Caffeine tends to give you a more mellow feeling. But make no mistake, both are highly addictive. They both can cause anxiety, paranoia and restlessness. One main difference, caffeine has a built in restraining mechanism. That means, once you’ve reached the point where you are feeling anxious and shaky, your body is telling you that you have had enough. Unlike, speed, your body continues to want more

It’s not just the caffeine they put in the energy drink. Read the label. They all contain large amounts of sugar. Some contain taurine, ginseng root, gingko biloba, guarana seed and B vitamins, plus other ingredients ordinary people can’t pronounce let alone know what they are. That should be a big, red flag. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, let alone know what it is, WHY are you putting it in your body?

While reading the label, check out the warning label. When a drink has to put warning labels on the cans, that should be the ultimate red flag. The warnings say not to drink more than 48 ounces a day, meaning 24 hours. In Australia, the warning labels say no more than 16 ounces a day! This is just for the energy drinks. What people don’t realize, they also need to add their total caffeine consumption. That includes the coffee, tea, soda and chocolate they have eaten throughout the day. When taken in high doses, caffeine can cause heart arrhythmia, leading to death.

There is also the DEADLY problem of drinking energy drinks with prescribed medications. The group most likely to end up in the ER for energy drink/pharmaceutical combinations are women aged 18-39. The type of prescription drugs associated with the highest number of cases were central nervous system stimulants such as Ritalin and other drugs used for ADHD, narcolepsy and appetite reduction. Followed by painkillers and drugs used to treat anxiety or insomnia. Some of the early symptoms of a caffeine over dose are: Jitters, restlessness and nervousness. Increased heartbeat. Nausea. Anxiety. Heart palpitations. Insomnia. Sweating. Dizziness. Vomiting. Cardiac arrest.

So how much is too much? The recommended safe dosage guidelines say a single dose between 250-500 mg could produce some mild to moderate symptoms. Which means for a 150 person, your maximum caffeine total would be about 2.5 (8ounce) cups of coffee a day. As for energy drinks, it depends on what kind you drink, but a safe amount would be 2.5 (16 ounce) cans a day.

Energy drink consumption over time can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms. For energy drink “addicts” an unfortunate cycle can form. Such as, people that take prescription drugs for pain, the drugs can make them sleepy, so they drink energy drinks in large amounts to stay awake which in turn sends them seeking meds to help them sleep. Too many times, Drs. don’t realize the problem are from energy drinks and will prescribe medications instead of getting to the heart of the matter.

Not only does this cycle exist, people with high blood pressure, heart problems, on birth control, thyroid problems, prone to seizures, diabetes, suffering from depression, pregnant, and many more medical conditions should stay away from energy drinks. Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist how energy drinks will affect your medications. Make sure you are honest and tell them exactly how much and what kind of drinks you use. Some of the ingredients in the energy drink can have deadly side effects when combined with your medications.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your morning coffee or your afternoon tea. Taken in moderation, caffeine is quite harmless. On the other hand, drinking an outstanding number of high energy drinks can lead to all sorts of complications, especially if you are taking medications.

If you happen to fall into this over indulgence of energy drinks, please try to cut down. Unfortunately, cutting back will take time as there are withdrawal symptoms associated with caffeine. So, take it slow. Start eating healthy, exercise and by all means get some sleep!! We all want you around for years to come!

Stay safe, stay healthy