The 8 signs you're addicted to caffeine – and when to see your GP
9th May 2022

CAFFEINE is one of nature’s finest gifts that billions of people indulge in every day.

But, like tobacco and alcohol, it is a stimulant which can make you feel a little more than just “alert”.

Coffee and tea are the most popular forms of caffeine.

Many soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and medications also contain the compound.

A number of times, it's been linked in research to a lower risk of Alzheimer's, a longer lifespan, and better heart health.

Health experts say that caffeine is likely safe for most healthy adults when they limit to 400 mg daily – equal to about four cups of coffee.

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But everyone has a different level of tolerance against caffeine, for it can cause a number of side effects, some of them unfavourable.

Lenstore, a contact lense retailer, investigated the warning signs of caffeine addiction, ranging from vision blurriness to muscle tremors and insomnia.

It said mood can be dip with too much caffeine, or by cutting it out (withdrawal).

If you notice your mental health being affected it is important to talk to your GP, the experts said. 

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Other than an overwhelming desire to run to the kettle, here are some signs you may be addicted to caffeine and are overdosing on the stuff…

1. Anxiety 

Going without your morning coffee may induce anxiety.

But one in five Brits admit that caffeine itself sets off anxious thoughts. 

This is because caffeine releases adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone.

With increasing caffeine doses, some people may be left feeling nervous, anxious and jittery. 

2. Insomnia

Caffeine’s job is to keep you awake, therefore consuming it too close to bedtime puts you in a danger zone.

A third (33 per cent) of people admit that caffeine makes it difficult for them to fall asleep at night, a symptom of insomnia.

Caffeine can stay in your system for hours on end. Consider cutting back on the tea and coffee from lunch time to ensure you’re sleepy by the evening.

3. Headaches

One in five people say caffeine gives them a headache.

Headaches are often a symptom people experience from the withdrawal of coffee, so if you want to cut down, expect this side effect.

The compound narrows blood vessels in the brain. When you stop taking it, these vessels expand again and may cause pain.

It can last for a couple of weeks, which is one reason cutting back on caffeine is a struggle.

4. Dizziness

Too much coffee can make you feel a little lightheaded.

Caffeine is a stimulant, like tobacco or alcohol, which reduces blood flow to the brain.

Too much and you may feel a little wobbly, even if you are a coffee connoisseur. 

5. Muscle tremors

Because caffeine is a stimulant, you may be familiar with muscle tremors.

This could cause trembling hands or a twitching eye.

With an overconsumption of the stuff, the muscles may become depleted of oxygen, causing them to spasm. 

6. High blood pressure

The blood pressure response to caffeine differs from person to person, but some may experience a sudden spike after a cup of coffee.

The NHS says drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may increase blood pressure. 

And this is thought to be more likely when combined with nicotine, found in tobacco and e-cigarette products.

High blood pressure (hypertension) has a number of causes, so it is unlikely that caffeine alone will drive this condition. But people with hypertension are told to stay away from the energy-booster.

Hypertension has a number of deadly complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.

7. Eye problems

High blood pressure can put pressure on the eyes, the NHS says.

And it warns against drinking more than four cups of coffee a day to avoid high blood pressure.

The tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes can become damaged when blood pressure is too high, which can cause a number of problems in vision. 

This includes retinopathy and choroidopathy, causing blurred vision, bleeding in the eye and even complete sight loss.

Recent studies are beginning to show a connection between those consuming large amounts and risk of glaucoma.

Glaucoma can have a number of symptoms including red eye, eye pain, seeing rings around lights, blurred vision and blindness if left untreated. 

8. Confusion and hallucinations

It’s extremely rare to overdose on caffeine, Healthline reports.

But the signs would include confusion and hallucinations.

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On a smaller scale, caffeine may make you feel irritable, especially if you are trying to withdraw from it.

The increased adrenaline also can cause hallucinations or brain fog. At that point, it may be best to cut back the caffeine. 

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