Meds and you

27 September 2013

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. Stimulants are drugs that increase alertness and awareness.

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Caffeine is an active ingredient of a variety of formulations - from energy drinks to pain-killing formulations.

General information
Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. Stimulants are drugs that increase alertness and awareness.

Effects of caffeine include increased energy, physical and mental endurance and elevated mood. This is most dramatic in individuals who are tired.

Caffeine is often used to prevent someone from falling asleep, and to decrease the fatigue associated with tedious, long periods of work such as studying for exams or long-distance driving.

It should be noted that caffeine only masks the sense of fatigue. It does not replenish energy.

Psychological and physical dependence may develop in those who consume caffeine regularly, over a long period of time. Withdrawal may also occur when regular caffeine users abruptly discontinue their habit.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: unscheduled
Available as: caffeine is available in various forms including syrups, tablets and chew-tabs.
What does it do? Caffeine has a stimulant action, increasing alertness and awareness
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: medium
Is caffeine available as a generic? yes
Is caffeine available on prescription only? no

User information

Duration of action: 3 - 7 hours.
Dietary advice: should best be taken with or after food to avoid gastric upset.
Stopping this medicine: abrupt stoppage may cause withdrawal symptoms including headaches and anxiety.
Prolonged use: caffeine may be habit-forming with prolonged use.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a heart disease

  • you have a liver disease

  • you have high blood pressure

  • you often battle to fall asleep

  • you have epilepsy

  • you suffer from an anxiety disorder

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side-effects may occur more frequently.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common
Rare
Only if severe
In all cases
dizziness

X
X

fast/irregular heart rate

X
X

irritability

X
X

nervousness/anxiety

X
X

jitters

X
X

diarrhoea

X
X

nausea/vomiting

X
X

blurred vision

X
X

dry mouth

X
X

difficulty breathing

X

X
fruit-like breath

X

X

Interactions

Drug interactions

alcohol reaction time may be decreased
medication for heart rhythm disturbance increased risk of caffeine toxicity
beta-blockers caffeine may counter the effect of these drugs
cimetidine stimulant effect of caffeine may be increased
fluvoxamine increased risk of caffeine toxicity
phenytoin decreased effect of caffeine
quinolone antibiotics increased risk of caffeine toxicity
smoking decreased effect of caffeine

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have heart disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, anxiety or if you often battle to fall asleep.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention.

Interesting fact
Consumption of caffeine has been linked to an increased frequency and severity of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This interaction is dose-dependent with the PMS incidence increasing by as much as 5-fold for those women consuming 8 to 10 cups of coffee daily.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.
 

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