Caffeine overdoses exist and this is how they happen

Coffee is part of many people’s morning routine to help give an extra push to start the day. Sometimes, waking up can be hard so snatching an energy drink or going on an extra Starbucks run in the afternoon is understandable. Although caffeine overdoses are a rare instance, they actually do happen. Here is how someone can have an overdose with caffeine.

Last month, a teenager from South Carolina died from a caffeine overdose, or in more detailed medical terms: ‘a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia. The teenager had ‘downed’ a café latte, a Mountain Dew and an energy drink.

On a positive note, caffeine can have some health benefits like helping with short-term memory loss and also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Adults consume around 100 to 200mg of caffeine each day, but for those who consume over the ‘recommended’ amount which is 400mg, they can face side effects such as jitteriness and insomnia.  

Once cup of coffee can boost blood levels up to around 5 mg/L but those who have reportedly died from caffeine overdose have had around 180mg/L in their system.

Caffeine can become toxic when an astronomical amount is consumed in a very short span of time. An overly large amount of caffeine can equal about 30 cups. The symptoms include abdominal pain and altered consciousness.

Ventricular fibrillation is a ‘rapid and irregular heart beat that disturbs the blood flow’ and can eventually lead to death with an overdose of caffeine. But such an overdose is still very rare.

A recent study showed that between the years of 1959 and 2017, there have only been a total of 51 caffeine-related deaths.

Energy drinks contain a higher amount of caffeine which is why they pose a bigger threat.

The most ‘dangerous form’ of caffeine is powdered caffeine. Just one teaspoon alone of powdered caffeine can amount to about 28 cups of coffee, according to the FDA.

On the topic of caffeine, Jeffrey Goldberger, a cardiologist at the University of Miami, said, “But it does have the potential to be dangerous at extremely high doses, and there are people who have some sensitivities to it.”

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