Can you overdose on coffee?

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 1:31 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 1:31 PM

Caffeine Overdose Kills Teen

Drinking coffee has benefits from increased concentration to reduced risk of diabetes, and much of the adult American population would have a hard time waking up without a cup of java or two.
But coffee does contain a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine, the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug, according to Salon.com. And just like any other beneficial drug, there's a question whether drinking coffee can be too much of a good thing, or even become fatal. Is it possible to overdose on coffee?

RELATED: Study: Drinking four cups of coffee each day lowers risk of death
Technically you could drink so much coffee you would die, but it's not likely you would overdose on coffee alone, according to Kentucky Poison Control. The much more urgent worry on caffeine overdose is an uncontrolled powdered caffeine, purchased primarily online. An FDA warning about the powder indicated that just one teaspoon is equal to drinking around 25 cups of coffee. 
"With this product being 100 percent pure caffeine, it is difficult to measure the recommended dose accurately and, therefore, easy to overdose on," said Ashley Webb, board-certified toxicologist and director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center. "The amount of caffeine powder needed to achieve the recommended dose is so small that most households don't even carry the appropriate measuring spoon."
Symptoms of this severe caffeine overdose range from vomiting to rapid heartbeat to disorientation, seizures and heart arrhythmia. The FDA noted two deaths from caffeine powder overdoses in a December 2015 warning, but if you steer away from these powders, the risk of overdosing with coffee dips into the non-fatal category.
Still, drinking too much caffeine in coffee, or by also consuming energy shots or sodas, can cause symptoms including insomnia, nervousness, heartburn, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat and muscle tremors, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic also warns against certain medications and herbal supplements that may interact with caffeine and cause bad reactions that can become deadly. 
Ephedrine: Mixing caffeine with this medication commonly used in decongestants might increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or seizure.
Theophylline: This medication, used in Theo-24 and Elixophyllin, is used to open bronchial airways. Taking it with caffeine can increase the adverse effects of caffeine, since the two drugs have similar effects. Nausea and heart palpitations are possible effects if you mix the two.
Echinacea: This herbal supplement, which people may take to prevent colds or other infections, may also increase the concentration of caffeine in your blood, along with amplifying the unpleasant effects of other caffeine consumed.

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 How much is too much caffeine?

Whether you're sipping a delicious latte or downing an energy shot from the convenience store, there is a safe amount of daily caffeine consumption. According to the Mayo Clinic, the number to strive for is 400 milligrams, which is roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two energy shots.

Some people are more sensitive, the Mayo Clinic noted, and for them even one cup of tea or coffee may prompt restlessness, sleep problems or other negative effects. Your reaction to caffeine can also depend on how much you're used to drinking − those with an established habit may be able to drink more without the unwanted side effects.

Men's Health featured a formula that helps consumers figure out how much caffeine would put them over that daily limit, which basically relies on dividing the caffeine milligrams in a source by 400. A Starbucks brew coffee, for example, with 320 milligrams, would indicate 1.2 cups for the daily safe limit.

You do need to time the caffeine you consume for maximum benefit, according to Men's Health, since caffeine takes 30-45 minutes to kick in regardless of what caffeine product you consume.

When you drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day or the equivalent, these side effects might mean you should cut back on caffeine, according to the Mayo Clinic:
• Migraine headache
• Insomnia
• Nervousness
• Irritability
• Restlessness
• Frequent urination or inability to control urination
• Stomach upset
• Fast heartbeat
• Muscle tremors

If you suspect caffeine overdose or any other sort of poisoning, you can reach your local poison center directly by calling the national toll-free poison help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

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Here’s how to identify (and get rid of) venomous spiders in your home

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:38 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:38 PM

Here are some important tips from experts on dealing with venomous spiders and what to do if you think you’ve been bit Most spiders are actually harmless and only a few types have venom strong enough to harm you A black widow can be identified by the red coloration on the underside of its abdomen A brown widow has an orange hourglass shape on its brown body Brown recluses have a dark violin-shaped mark on its head Wear long sleeves and gloves when you're cleaning in the garage, clearing brush or pulling

Most people aren't too happy when they encounter a spider, and that's especially true if the creepy-crawly you come across happens to be venomous.

»RELATED: Brown recluse spiders: 4 things to know as the dangerous pests become more active

Although it's understandable to be anxious about venomous spiders, it’s important to know the difference between a harmless spider and a dangerous one.

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Here are some important tips from experts on dealing with venomous spiders and what to do if you think you’ve been bit.

Identify types of venomous spiders 

(PeteMuller/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Even if you think you've been bitten by a spider, most are actually harmless, according to the Mayo Clinic

Only a few types have venom strong enough to harm you and fangs (yikes!) long enough to penetrate your skin.

Venomous spiders found in the Southeast include:

Black widow – identified by the pattern of red coloration on the underside of its abdomen.

Brown widow – identified by an orange hourglass shape on a brown body

Brown recluse – identified by its brown color and dark violin-shaped marking on its head.

(Identifications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UGA Extension)

Wear gloves when you're working outside or in the garage

If you stick your bare hand into some brush, you may be bitten by a brown or black widow. Although they usually try to avoid people, they don't have a choice if you accidentally wrap your hand around one, according to UGA Extension. Be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves when you're cleaning in the garage, clearing brush or pulling a log off a woodpile.

Look out for your clothes and shoes

Black and brown widows can also hide in clothes and shoes that have been left outside, UGA Extension advised. The best solution is to not leave these items outside (or in your garage) if you can possibly avoid it, and, if not, make sure you shake them out and check them carefully before putting them on.

Use insect repellent

The Mayo Clinic recommends using an insect repellent containing DEET on your clothes and shoes.

The best spider web wound dressings are fresh and clean so their natural healing qualities are in full force. (Handout/TNS)(Tribune News Service)

Don't create a habitat your home

Don't store firewood against your house, since it can serve as a haven for spiders who can then find their way inside. The same is true for piles of rocks or lumber near your home.

Clean up spider webs

If you see a spider web inside your home, vacuum it up, put it in a sealed bag and dispose of it outside.

Make it harder for spiders to get inside your home

Make sure you have screens on your windows and doors that fit tightly. Seal any cracks where spiders could work their way into your home.

Recognize the signs of a bite

Many spider bites go unnoticed or cause only an itchy bump. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you may have been bitten by a venomous spider and should seek medical attention, according to the Mayo Clinic:
  • Pain – starting around the bite mark and possibly spreading to the abdomen, back or chest
  • Abdominal cramping – can be severe
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Skin that becomes dark blue or purple and develops into a deep open sore

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7 things to know about the human plague, symptoms and how to protect yourself

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 3:39 PM

What You Need To Know: The Plague

Two new cases of the human plague have been confirmed in New Mexico Tuesday, according to health officials.

» RELATED: Possible plague case in Georgia 

This year, New Mexico has seen three cases of the plague, the first of which was reported in early June.

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>> Read more trending news 

All three cases required hospitalization, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

Here are seven things to know about the plague:

What is it?

According to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that affects humans and other mammals.

» RELATED: Stray cat's plague death prompts 'fever watch' 

What is the history of plague?

Historians and scientists have recorded three major plague pandemics, according to the CDC.

The first, called the Justinian Plague (after 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian I), began in A.D. 541 in central Africa and spread to Egypt and the Mediterranean.

The “Great Plague” or “Black Death” originated in China in 1334 and eventually spread to Europe, where approximately 60 percent of the population died of the disease.

» RELATED: The 'Black Death': Are gerbils, not rats, to blame for plague? 

Lastly, the 1860s “Modern Plague,” which also began in China, spread to port cities around the world by rats on steamships, according to the CDC.

In 1894, French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin discovered the causative bacterium, Yersinia pestis.

Ten million deaths resulted from the last pandemic, which eventually affected mammals in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

It was during this last pandemic that scientists identified infectious flea bites as the culprit in the spread of the disease.

More about the history of plague.

Where in the U.S. is human plague most common?

Human plague usually occurs after an outbreak in which several susceptible rodents die, infected fleas leave the dead rodents and seek blood from other hosts.

These outbreaks usually occur in southwestern states, particularly in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, according to the CDC.

» RELATED: Lyme disease risks could increase after mouse plague, experts warn 

According to the World Health Organization, an average of five to 15 cases occur annually in the U.S.

Since 1900, more than 80 percent of those cases have been in the bubonic form.

Worldwide, there are approximately 1,000-3,000 cases of naturally occurring plague reported every year.

More about plague in the U.S.

How do humans and other animals get plague?

Usually, humans get plague after a bite from a rodent flea carrying the bacterium.

Humans can also get plague after handling (touching or skinning) an animal (like squirrels, prairie dogs, rats or rabbits) infected with plague.

According to the CDC, inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected human or mammal (sick cats, in particular) can also lead to plague.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals 

What are the types of plague and their symptoms?

Bubonic plague (most common)

  • Tender, warm and swollen nymph nodes in the groin, armpit or neck usually develop within a week after an infected flea bite.
  • Signs and symptoms include sudden fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches.
  • If bubonic plague is not treated, it can spread to other areas of body and lead to septicemic or pneumonic plague.

Septicemic plague

  • Occurs when bacteria multiply in the bloodstream.
  • Signs and symptoms include fever and chills; abdominal pain; diarrhea; vomiting; extreme fatigue and light-headedness; bleeding from mouth, nose, rectum, under skin; shock; gangrene (blackening, tissue death) in fingers, toes and nose.
  • Septicemic plague can quickly lead to organ failure.

Pneumonic plague (least common)

  • Pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs, is the most dangerous plague and is easily spread person-to-person through cough droplets.
  • Signs and symptoms (within a few hours after infection) include bloody cough, difficulty breathing, high fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness.
  • If it is not treated quickly, pneumonic plague is almost always fatal.

» RELATED: What is Lyme disease and how to avoid it 

How is plague treated?

Immediately see a doctor if you develop symptoms of plague and have been in an area where the disease is known to occur.
Your doctor will likely give you strong antibiotics (streptomycin, gentamicin or others) to combat the disease.

If there are serious complications like organ failure or bleeding abnormalities, doctors will administer intravenous fluids, respiratory support and give patients oxygen.

How to protect yourself, your family and your pets against plague

You and your family

The CDC warns against picking up or touching dead animals and letting pets sleep in the bed with you.

Experts also recommend eliminating any nesting places for rodents such as sheds, garages or rock piles, brush, trash and excess firewood.

Other ways to protect yourself and your family include wearing gloves if handling dead or sick animals, using an insect repellent with DEET to prevent flea bites and reporting sick or dead animals to your local health department or to law enforcement officials.

» RELATED: Ticks the season: How to prevent, find and get rid of ticks this summer 

Pets

Flea medicine should be administered regular for both dogs and cats.

Keep your pet’s food in rodent-proof containers and don’t let them hunt or roam in rodent habitats.

If your pet becomes ill, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

More about plague at CDC.gov.

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An hour-by-hour, easy guide to improving your energy all day long

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2018 @ 1:29 PM

Don't let your age determine what you can and can't do. These tricks will help you run circles around younger people.

Is “just −so −tired” your constant state of being?

Batteries drained? All out of oomph? Exhausted?

There are so many ways to describe that blah, no energy feeling that can strike throughout the day. And while sometimes the explanation is obvious (binge-watching an entire season of Santa Clarita Diet last night may not have been the best idea), other energy sappers are not as noticeable or just creep up over time.

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»RELATED: 7 ways to boost your energy inexpensively 

"Stress, poor diet, poor-quality sleep, lack of exercise and limited bright-light exposure during the day can all contribute to fatigue," psychologist Shelby F. Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told Consumer Reports.

If certain symptoms accompany your fatigue, you may need to see a doctor, according to CR. They include unexplained weight gain or loss, fever, shortness of breath, morning headaches or difficulty concentrating.

For other folks who feel drained, self-help is an option. Harris and other health experts shared these quick ways to boost your energy throughout the day. Bye bye, blahs!

7 a.m.

Even chirpy morning people need some time before they're fully functioning. "It can take up to two hours to get the brain fully alert," Matthew Edlund, a doctor and director of the Gulf Coast Sleep Institute in Sarasota, Florida, told Real Simple. He explained that one reason you're lethargic is that your core body temperature has dipped during the night to keep you in deep, restorative slumber. 

To jar yourself back to peak energy more quickly, open the blinds and do a few stretches in front of the window. Light lets your brain know it's time to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy, Edlund said. The physical activity will raise your body temperature out of the sleep-inducing range and increase blood flow to your brain.

7:15 a.m.

Take a “scentsational” shower. For a quick morning energy boost while you bathe before work or school, use bath products scented with citrus, eucalyptus or mint. "When you smell these scents, a surge of energy flows through the body, which clears the mind of clutter and gives you a quick lift," Ann Marie Chiasson, a Tucson-based integrative-medicine physician, told Real Simple.

8 a.m.

Pack in some protein. Eating lots of protein is essential for staving off fatigue, especially early in the day when your cortisol levels are high, Beverly Hills-based endocrinologist and metabolic specialist Eva Cwynar told Forbes. She suggested putting eggs on the breakfast menu, having a slice of ham on the side or adding protein powder to your oatmeal. If you eat only carbohydrates, you'll crash early and hard, explained Cwynar, who is the author of The Fatigue Solution: Increase Your Energy in Eight Easy Steps.

If you're not a breakfast person, try to manage at least a banana and about 22 raw almonds, Real Simple advised. Or sip a bottle of drinkable fruit yogurt or kefir, adding 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed for a fiber boost.

»RELATED: Want to lose weight? Give your breakfast an energy boost

10 a.m.

Shake up your routine. Any time you provide yourself with a novel experiences, your brain responds by releasing a rush of neurotransmitters, such as the dopamine that makes you more alert, according to Real Simple. Whether you hit a morning slump while watching the kiddos play in the yard or completing yet another report at the office, just taking something ordinary and switching it up can give you a quick hit of energy. Answer the phone with your other hand, for example, or skip to the mailbox or speak in just one-syllable words for five minutes. 

12 noon

Plan something to look forward to. Along with a light, protein-packed lunch like turkey chili, RS recommended taking part of your lunch hour to research something that will brighten your days to come. "Browse the Web for plane tickets. Or check out reviews for a movie you want to see over the weekend. Anticipating a pleasurable reward can set off a blast of energizing dopamine."

2 p.m.

Make a two-minute play date. Just a few minutes of fun brain-teasers will activate the reward system of the brain, which releases a surge of energizing neurotransmitters, according to RS. It recommended the Cup O' Joe brain-training app for the iPhone for memory games and reaction-time tests that are also actually entertaining.

3 p.m.

Fill out tomorrow's to do list. Rumination activates some parts of the prefrontal brain regions that have been associated with depression, Boulder, Colorado–based clinical psychologist Joan Borysenko told Real Simple. That means agonizing over what's on your must-do list for tomorrow will drain enjoyment from the evening ahead. If you take a few minutes during the afternoon slump hours to create tomorrow's to-do list, you can prevent this energy-sapping reaction. Should your mind try to dwell on what you didn't accomplish today, you can quickly get back to the fun and relaxation knowing you have a game plan in place.

(Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

4 p.m.

Cut off the caffeine. Coffee and tea are both great pick-me-ups earlier in the day because of their caffeine content, according to CR. But it's a good idea to limit caffeine overall to about 400 mg (that's about two to four 8-ounce cups of coffee) and stop visiting the coffee machine no later than 4 p.m. or so. "Caffeine can disrupt sleep when it's consumed even six hours before bedtime," CR noted.

9 p.m.-10 p.m.

Power down, sleepyheads. To trigger your brain to start producing that sleep-inducing melatonin, about an hour before bedtime dim the lights, switch off the TV and put away (out of reach, ideally out of the bedroom) all your smartphones, tablets and computers.

10 p.m.

Listen to a meditation or relaxation app. To separate physical fatigue from the mental drain caused by life's demands and worries. Harris recommended listening to a meditation or relaxation app right before bed. (Make sure you power off the phone right afterwards.) "Mindful meditation quiets your mind, so your brain isn't hijacked by anxious or racing thoughts of the day or by what has to be done in the future," Harris said. "It centers you and helps set the stage for sleep."

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Stream and dream: How to binge-watch Netflix and still get sleep

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 @ 4:19 PM

Netflix Releases Most-Binged Content In 2017

Scientists and your average insomniac have long known that factors from stress to overly hot bedrooms to a partner's snoring can cause poor sleep.

Now, there's another item for the list, one that goes in the "life is unfair" column − because it turns out that binge-watching Netflix (your source of joy, stress reduction and water cooler conversations) can cause poor sleep and insomnia. 

»RELATED: Want better sleep? Cut down on binge-watching, study suggests

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Netflix may have tweeted that sleep is its "greatest enemy," but in real life, it is wreaking havoc. Binge-watching Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services causes sleep deprivation, according to scientists from the University of Leuven in Belgium in a 2017 study published later in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The researchers surveyed 423 people ages 18 to 25 and concluded that among poor sleepers, almost a third (32.6 percent) had a poor sleep quality associated with being a binge viewer.

TV watching is linked to higher levels of belly fat, a University of Minnesota study shows. (Pawel Szpytma/Dreamstime/TNS)(Pawel Szpytma/Dreamstime)

Increased levels of binge-watching made the bad effects worse, including daytime fatigue and insomnia symptoms, from bad moods to a higher risk of being in a workplace accident or drowsy driving crash.

Ugh! Why would these good doctors say such things about binge-watching a series like "The Good Wife?" The science behind the findings goes beyond the obvious explanation of, "If you're watching, you're not sleeping."

Researchers found binge-watching adversely affected sleep in two areas. The first, pre-sleep arousal, may sound like an element of "The Eddy" or some other bingeable series, but it actually refers to the way the content you're watching activates your brain and body, according to Tuck.com, with a mission of "advancing better sleep."

At some point during the binge, you get invested in the show, becoming nervous about what happens next or thrilled about some relationship development.

That's great for the entertainers and great for the viewer, but not so good for prospects of a good night's sleep. Why? Those feelings don't stay in your cerebrum: They make your heart pound and your whole body become more alert. "When your body and brain are that activated, it's the opposite of the relaxation and 'shutting-off' period your body needs to induce sleep," Tuck.com noted. "Even if you're just lying there, your body feels 'on.'"

The second factor that makes binge-watching so damaging to healthy sleep is the blue light coming from the TV, phone, tablet or computer that enables binge-watching. "When your brain senses blue light from an electronic device, it perceives it as sunlight," Tuck.com explained. "As a result, it assumes it's still daytime, so it's not yet time to kick off melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It releases at night, inducing sleep. The longer your brain delays melatonin release, the harder it is to fall asleep, and stay asleep."

Of course, you can know how the binge-watching ends (or rather doesn't end with a good night's sleep) and still crave just one more episode.

Happily, you don't have to choose between binge-watching and good sleep. "You can stream your favorite shows and movies without sacrificing the sleep you need each night," American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Ronald Chervin said. "Responsible binge-watching is the way to balance your personal entertainment with your health and well-being."

Here are tips for creating a binge-watch/sleep compromise from AASM and Tuck.com:

Adjust the light. Consider binge-watching as part of the overall light that cues your sleep-wake cycle. Spend plenty of time out in natural light, particularly early in the day, Tuck.com recommended. "This will boost your alertness so you're less tired during the day, but it will also make you sleepier by the time bedtime rolls around."

Filter the blue. When you feel the need to binge-watch, turn on your device's native red-light filter to filter out strong blue wavelengths or download an app that does it for you.

(Pixabay)

Schedule viewing and sleep time. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, essentially training your body to naturally be alert or tired at predictable times each day, Tuck.com advised. Take the same approach with binge-watching, setting a limit for how many episodes you'll watch and at what times and sticking to it.

Avoid temptation. Download only the episodes you have allowed on your schedule and then turn off the WiFi on your device so you can't sneak in a few more episodes. It's also a good idea to watch with a buddy who will help you stay accountable.

Turn off all your electronics at the same time each day. Bringing the binge-watching to a halt helps, but if you're still on the phone checking e-mail, your brain is still getting cues from blue light. Shoot for turning off electronics 60 minutes before bed.

Turn off "auto-play" in your settings. This goes for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video alike.

Select low-key binge content late at night. Save those juicy dramas and pulse-quickening thrillers for afternoon or sick-day sessions. Close to bed, try those restrained but amusing sitcoms that are still bingeable, like "One Day at a Time" (a Tech Junkie pick, so it's bound to be good).

Pick a good spot to binge watch. Back to that "life's unfair" theme again. Bed is the worst place to binge-watch if you're hoping to sleep well later. "Your bed should be reserved for sleep and sex only," Tuck.com noted. "The more activities you introduce to your sleep environment, the more you confuse your brain into forgetting it's a place to wind down and fall asleep. If you spend hours binge-watching, your brain may come to associate your bed as a place you lie for hours without falling asleep."

Cut the cliffhanger rush. According to Lifehacker, another way to diminish the hold of bingeable shows without sacrificing enjoyment of watching is to stop watching an episode during a lull in the action. When you choose to stop at a point that's not a cliffhanger, you minimize your chances of going for "just one more episode," and avoid the dopamine release that's so bad about encouraging insomnia. The action tends to die down in the middle of the episode or about three-quarters of the way through. Stop there and save the drama for the next viewing session. 

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