Caffeine is a stimulant of the nervous system most commonly found coffee, but also in energy drinks, cocoa, chocolate, power bars and some pain medicines, among other things. Most people think of caffeine as a harmless substance since it is a component of a variety of foods found in every household.
However, the ability of people to tolerate caffeine varies a great deal. Caffeine ‘kick-starts’ the adrenal glands into producing stress hormones and in some people these produce an effect of being alert and awake, but for others it becomes problematic.
How the Body is Affected by Caffeine
Caffeine intensifies the amount of adrenaline present in the blood and recent evidence shows that this can cause delusions. Furthermore, when some by-products of adrenaline are broken down by the body, they induce symptoms of schizophrenia in sensitive individuals.
In some individuals, just a small amount of caffeine produces severe reactions. The inability of individuals not being able to metabolize caffeine properly produces inflammation of some organs or hypersensitivity. What is alarming about the situation is that in many cases, an allergy to caffeine remains undetected for long periods of time!
Caffeine sensitivity is difficult to diagnose because sometimes the symptoms show up many hours after consumption. Hence, the symptoms are not linked to ingestion of caffeine. Also, many people do not realize they have consumed caffeine because they are not aware of the number of products it is found in. Always read the labels of food packets, you may be surprised.
While coffee gets a bad reputation because it contains the maximum amounts of caffeine, people sensitive to this stimulant can get allergy attacks by simply consuming colas or binging on chocolate!
Allergies to Caffeine Can Be Quite Serious
Unknowingly, people can sometimes over exert their vital organs (including the brain) if they are not diagnosed as being allergic to caffeine. The severity of the symptoms depends on how strongly the person is allergic.
The most common symptoms associated with indulgence of products containing caffeine include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cold sweats
- Hives & rashes
- Some swelling on the face
In more severe cases the symptoms can include panic attacks, pains in the chest, hallucinations, breathing problems, obsessive compulsive disorder, irritability, shock, lack of focus and inability to concentrate.
Caffeine Can Lead to Vitamin Deficiencies
Being a diuretic, caffeine also increases the speed with which many vitamins and minerals such as zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and a combination of B vitamins are removed from the body. This in turn can create deficiencies in the body which lead to anxiety, mood swings, and panic.
These physical symptoms can be supplemented by psychiatric reactions in more pronounced cases. Medical personnel have been known to misdiagnose the most severe form of caffeine allergy as anxiety disorder, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and even depression and put patients on unnecessary medication.
Treatment for Caffeine Allergies
The first step to treating caffeine allergy is to determine if the allergy exists.
This can be done by a medical expert in several ways. The doctor can ask the patient to swallow a controlled amount of caffeine and observe the reaction over a period of time. A skin prick or blood test can also determine the presence of allergy without a doubt.
Since even small amounts of caffeine can be very destructive for some people, once the allergy has been confirmed, all foods containing caffeine must be eliminated from the diet. There is no other allergy treatment available for now.
Warning :: Don’t Just Quit Taking Caffeine Altogether!
However, it is not advisable to stop at once as this could also be disastrous. You should ‘wean’ yourself off caffeine gradually. Naturally there will be withdrawal symptoms, which fortunately do not last for extended periods of time in majority of the people (when done gradually).