Friday, November 03, 2006

Caffeine crazy

I've mentioned before about how much I like Diet Coke. My (non-blog) friends joke with me all the time about potential withdrawl symptoms if I'm not carrying my Diet Coke.

However, I had no idea what a fad and craze they are these days, especially with younger people. I remember in college a drink called Jolt cola and their claim to fame is having twice the caffeine as regular coca-cola. This definitely helped me though many an "all-nighter" preparing during final exam week.

According to Cnn.Com, "Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. That represents 7.6 million teens, a jump of almost 3 million in three years." This fact really amazed me. This is a $3.4 Billion industry. Sheesh!

Unfortunately, caffeine overdose reports are becoming more and more frequent - mainly because of the combination of caffeine and other chemicals like alcohol and drugs. I'm just starting to see this in my small community. But, apparently, this becoming a major problem in the larger cities.
"Young people are taking caffeine to stay awake, or perhaps to get high, and many of them are ending up in the emergency department," said Dr. Danielle McCarthy of Northwestern University, who conducted the study. "Caffeine is a drug and should be treated with caution, as any drug is."

How much caffeine do energy drinks contain? A University of Florida study found that some products, although served in cans two-thirds the size of a standard can of Coke, contain two to four times the amount of caffeine as that Coke. Energy drinks are unregulated in the United States, but the authors of the University of Florida paper suggest warning labels for them.
Ok, here we go. Let's now regulate the thing by putting warning labels on them. This is an entire rant in itself. Have warning labels really been effective when placed on things like cigarette packages, alcohol bottles, and music CD covers? C'mon, gimme a break.

But, I digress. Following review of this article and talking with some of my emergency department colleagues, I was really enlightened on the increasing trend of caffeine overdose and caffeine combinations with alcohol/drugs. I think I'll try to talk with my patients to see how prevalent it is in my community.


Scott Stambler said...

Doc A

First, thank you for the kind comment and the link. It is an honor to be linked to such high quality work as yours.

Secondly - High Grade Green Tea. The only way to go. It's been studied to death on its health benefits. (Nice oxymoron, huh) The good stuff tastes wonderful. It's calming and lifting. If you want to get connected to Green Tea, email me and I can tell you where to find the good stuff.

Thanks again


NeoNurseChic said...

I'll admit that I'm a caffeine addict. I don't actually drink it every single day - so I guess that doesn't make me a true caffeine addict, but I do drink it pretty often. For the longest time, I would not drink any caffeinated beverages because of having the constant migraine. The headache center where I go does not promote eliminating foods in a universal way for every sufferer, but the only thing they do is that when they admit patients to the hospital, they put them on a no-caffeine diet. However, I did avoid it for a long time and found that there was absolutely no change in my headaches. It was still bad enough to require hospitalization many times - caffeine or not. So finally I decided that I'd rather just go ahead and drink caffeinated sodas when I want instead of restricting myself for a pointless cause! I never tried any of the energy drinks (except for drinking half of a MDX and hating it) until I was in England. Many cluster headache sufferers use red bull at the beginning of an attack to abort it - by necking the can of red bull. Yes, it does work as a pretty potent vasoconstrictor - usually if I'm going to use it for an attack, I must combine it by also taking my Frova (which takes too long to abort an attack if I wait for the attack to take it, but it does abort future attacks for the next 10 hours or so) or oxygen, etc. I looked on a site comparing the amount of caffeine in drinks, and red bull doesn't have as much caffeine as some sort of common Starbucks coffee drink, but I'm not sure which drink it is! So I tried the red bull for the first time in England, and I was shocked with it aborting the CH. So now I do drink more of them than I would really like!!

When in college, my one roommate actually gave my other roommate and I some no doze. I only ever took it a few times, but then it made my heart beat really fast and gave me palpitations, so I gave that up very quickly - I really did not want anything bad to happen to my heart! Even if it wasn't going to cause damage just from one dose, I was afraid that the constant acceleration of the heart rate would cause long term complications somewhere down the road.

For a very interesting webpage, check out this page which looks at what happens when spiders eat a fly that has been dosed with certain chemicals and then creates a web. The spider on caffeine had the most disorganized web out of any other spider. Kinda makes you wonder what really happens to our brains and our productivity when consuming large amounts of caffeine!

Carrie :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr.A, thx for ur comment & the link as well! :)

Talking about caffine, I used to have an expresso EVERY single time b4 my economics class (so glad I dun have to take that anymore), and if not I will end up sleeping in class and getting punished!

I have a caffeine overdose during my finals a few years ago - I only have like 3 hours of sleep everyday and basically just live cups on coffee. I remembered the last day of my exam, I had heart palpitations, light headed and my hands were all shaky(I actually thought I was gonna have a heart attack). But anyway, I did managed to get thro to the end of the exam then went straight to the hospital. The doctor told me I have a coffee overdose and he said sarcastically what a hard working student I am (perhaps I shud just take that as a compliment ?_? ) And yeah... I wasn't allowed to drink coffee for quite a while.

But hey, I'll still have my coffee everytime b4 a boring lecture.

Dia :)

Anonymous said...

non-blog friends? you have non-blog friends? geesh doc, then you are not blogging enough, you know. now have a diet coke and get on it, okay? bee

skinnylittleblonde said...

Have warning labels really been effective when placed on things like cigarette packages, alcohol bottles, and music CD covers?
YES :) I found out a couple of years ago that in order to get to hear some songs as originally recorded (with profanity) I had to check for the sticker AND make sure it is was the right sticker. (Some CD's say edited and others say:warning)

Many young people will mix the caffeine drinks with alcohol to get a super-buzz, a buzz similar to some street drugs...yet they don't 'do drugs.' This craze parallels Bill Clinton & his 'I did not have sex' comments...such technicalities!

I love caffeine & I beleive I am an addict, but do not do the energy drinks. Sweet Tea daily & coffee when it's cold, but shouold I go on vacation & be deprived of my caffeine for a day, I wake up the day following with an incredible headache.

Great post & what an interesting link added by neonursechic.

Mother Jones RN said...

Dear Doc:

I totally hear you about needing you can of Coke. Here's a link to a post I wrote.

We've been seeing kids on our psychiatric unit that abuse a combination of caffeine and cold medications, and a few of them come to us after spending a few days in ICU. They don’t think of caffeine as a drug because it comes in soft drinks. Unfortunately, I believe this trend is only going to get worse.


Dr. A said...

MJ, the link didn't come through on the comments. But, I did want to share it with everyone, because it's a good post. Click here.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Am I the only one who thought, "three times as much caffeiene as coke? I gotta get me some of this stuff."

I do back off on the caffeine when I start having tremors, PACs or when my colleagues notice that I've had too much caffeine.

But caffeine's not a real drug... no.... ;)

Mother Jones RN said...

Thanks for fixing the link, Doc.


The Curmudgeon said...

I try to keep it under two pots of coffee a day.

And I'm still sleepy.

ClinkShrink said...

I posted this quite a while ago on ShrinkRap but it's time to share again:

Death By Caffeine

In case you want to know how much you can drink before it kills you.

Midwife with a Knife said...

I loved the death by caffeine! It made me laugh, especially the "kill me" button.

And, since I'm going to try to make a 400 mile drive (in the snow?)after work tonight (hm.. all of a sudden, not sounding like such a good idea), I may need my LD50 of caffeine.

Anonymous said...

Hello Doc,

Well let's just say in university- I started having very bad pains in my abdomen. I went to the doctor. She asked me how much coffee I drank. I told her about 3 pots of coffee a day. She told me to stop. I did and the pain went away.

Since my university days of needing to stay awake I have learned that I love coffee- and I mean good coffee. Not crap. A beautifully made espresso is to be savored not devoured.

As for Energy Drinks. I find a Red Bull will make me more alert and take any fog away. But they do have a recommendation on the Red Bull label to not drink more than 2 a day. The original red bull from Thailand was actually a medicinal drink. Then they mass produced and marketed it. Then Red Bull became very popular with the Rave kids who are also well known for their consumption of other substances.

Let’s face it. We are addicted to caffeine. But I would rather have people addicted to the consumption of caffeine than irritated or half asleep. And let's just remember Freud used to prescribe cocaine to his patients.


Anonymous said...

It's well know that Diet Coke is the closest thing to Mothers Milk for an adult. Still, I don't let my daughter drink it.

Anonymous said...

Coffee... must have coffee!!!

Found you off the nablo list, thought I'd just say hi!


Anonymous said...

I use to drink coffee everyday and slept fine. Then I retired and could not sleep while drinking coffee. A doctor from told me it was because I was not working it off. So I stopped drinking it and went to tea and am now fine.