Monday, August 20, 2012

Medical Mondays: CAFFEINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Do you have your tea, or coffee, or chocolate, or Super Mocha Java with an extra shot of espresso ready? Good.

Let's talk.

For this caffeine post, I have to reiterate my disclaimer. I am not going to persuade you to stop drinking caffeinated beverages, or to start drinking them. Your choice. Even if it's Taster's Choice. Eww.

Ah, caffeine. The legal drug of the masses. 

What is it? It's 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione 3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione, of course. But who has time to say that at the drive-thru window at Starbucks? "NEED JOE" is a more economical use of syllables.

Where is it found naturally? Lots of plants, including the coffee, tea, and cacao plants, kola nuts, guarana, and yerba mate, among others. 

Who drinks it? Everybody but your weird Aunt Nellie, that's who. (Just kidding. Ten percent of you guys are not weird. You're just...special.) 90% of adults in the world consume some form of caffeine every day. Given our world population, that's...um...lemme drink another gulp of tea while I do the mental math...6.3 BILLION people a day. 

For the sake of ridiculous visualizations, what volume of beverage is that? About 800 million gallons. Give or take a few gallons. (When I did that calculation, I was like, whoa! That's like Lake Superior sized, right? But no, Lake Superior had to be all "I'm three QUADRILLION gallons, dummy. Go find another lake to dump the world's coffee and tea and Red Bull and diet Mountain Dew. A small one." They need to rename it Lake Superiority Complex, I think.)

What happens if spiders are fed caffeine? I'm SO glad you asked! This is what happens.

From Wikipedia
Apparently they've studied caffeine's effects on mollusks too. I mean, really? Why do clams and cuttlefish and squid need to guzzle down a bottle of 5-Hour Energy? Tell me that. Actually, no. That would just result in a really bad invertebrate joke I don't want to hear. 

What does caffeine do to you, right after you drink a shot of espresso? You all probably know the answer to this one already. Let's review. It can increase mental alertness, mental focus, physical endurance, may cause insomnia, increased bathroom trips (for #1 and #2), and a sharp increase in Tweeting and chatty behavior. 

What if you really, really overdo it? Most people drink an average of two cups of coffee a day. That's about 200-250 mg of caffeine a day. People who suddenly drink a lot more than their usual amount can suffer from caffeinism. Symptoms include heart palpitations (the sensation that your heart is pounding or going fast--even causing abnormal arrhythmias), nervousness, insomnia, stomach upset and diarrhea, headaches, irritability, and occasional decreases in Twitter followers. It also results in excessive whole-body bouncing. Okay, that last one may only happen to me.

And if you suddenly stop drinking coffee after being a regular drinker? Headaches, nausea, fatigue, body pain and difficulty concentrating. Not fun. (This is when the Twitter feed suddenly stops for days, or is replaced by multiple #needcaffeineNOW hashtags.)

Can caffeine kill you? Yes. (I hear a collective gasp of FEAR from my blog readers!) But you'd have to drink about 100 cups of coffee to overdose. Yuk. Cases of fatal caffeine consumption usually occur after overdosing on caffeine pills. Death is often caused by a fatal heart arrhythmia

Can caffeine save your life? Possibly. It's been associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson's disease, decreased deaths due to heart problems, decreased diabetes risk, and decreased risk of colorectal cancer and certain types of liver disease. 

But? You knew there was a but! There's always a but. The data for other cancers is not definitive, and there may be an increase risk of osteoporosis with caffeine consumption.

I don't like coffee or tea or chocolate, but I lurve my makeup. Any ideas? First of all, you may be a mutant. Go check the mirror or get a DNA test. Secondly, yes, there is something called SpazzStick, which is caffeinated lip balm. There you go. Luckily they don't make a formula for spiders. Not that spiders suffer from chapped lips, but anywho. Who moved my cup of tea?

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
  All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)
 


48 comments:

Shelley Munro said...

I like coffee and tea. The withdrawal symptoms aren't much fun. Been there, done that. :(
Interesting post as always.

Shelly said...

I gave up caffiene four years ago, and there are still days (not often, though) where I desperately crave it. Ugh.

Old Kitty said...

I love coffee!! I shall never give it up! Especially now that I have a Nespresso Machine!!!

Take care
x

Jenny Woolf said...

Interesting post. I once tried to discover if caffeine affected risk of heart and/or stroke but couldn't find anything conclusive.

Sarah said...

My dad was having a lot of heart palpitations, and when he stopped drinking a few Diet Cokes a day ... heart palpitations gone. I wonder if that's in my future, since I have those from time to time, too! Great post as always, Lydia.

Connie Keller said...

Loved reading your post while sipping a mug of French pressed medium roast coffee. Yum!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm like Kitty. I love, love coffee and need it to survive my hectic schedule. I'd probably need to stay in bed for a few days if I ever gave it up.

Great post though I confess I was scared to open it in case you said something I couldn't bear to know.

Jessica Bell said...

Oh yes ... I've experienced those headaches ... do not want to EVER go there again. Hence, I quit quitting coffee :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

So that's why the spiders in my house make those funked up webs. They've been dipping into the coffee when I'm not looking. ;o)

I lovelovelove my coffee in the morning and my Dew the rest of the day. A little tea here and there doesn't hurt either. And let's not start talking about the chocolate intake. Suffice it to say, I'm skewing the 2 cups a day average over here.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Love the caffeinated spider web! Yikes! But what happens to the mollusks? What kind of pearl does a mollusk on caffeine produce?

Louise Bates said...

I try to keep my caffeine consumption to one cup a day, but most of the time it creeps up to two. My mom just started cutting back from SIX cups a day to two, so I always feel positively abstemious compared to her.

(Irrelevantly, I just spelled abstemious right on the first try, and now I'm in shock.)

Becky Mahoney said...

I can stop whenever I want to!!!!

(No, actually, I've established that I can't. Le sigh.)

Fantastic post!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great post, Lydia, I like caffeine, though my yoga instructor has asked me to stop having it.

Linda Gray said...

Ah, I LURVE caffeine! If I were deprived of my coffee, I'd have to go for the lip balm. Just read an article this morning about the antioxidant benefits of caffeine. So, caffeine only protects against colon cancer among the cancers? (Not that that's anything to sneeze at.) Lay-press often touts benefits for helping prevent other types of cancer as well. . . skin, breast.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lip balm??? Wow.

I don't like coffee (although I love the smell!) but I drink tea pretty much constantly. Chai is my current fave :)

Talli Roland said...

YAY for coffee! Oh, how I adore it. :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Like Jemi said: "Lip balm?"

I am a hot and ice tea man. Cofffe, no. Coats the teeth and never tastes as good as it smells! Big tease! :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

It's a funny chemistry-biology spectrum, how the same substance can make you awake and alert after a small amount, and jittery, sweat-drenched, and paranoid after too much. Or is that just me?

Barbara Watson said...

The smell of coffee is so luring but I've never cared for its flavor...but...I'm sure I eat enough chocolate to rival those 2 cups of coffee per day that most people drink.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've read lots of stuff about how coffee does a lot of good things for you if your stomach can tolerate it. Good thing, because I don't want to give it up.

lbdiamond said...

So, if I were in any way like a spider, I'd become disorganized after having caffeine?

Meredith said...

That spider pic is too funny! I'm definitely addicted to caffeine, but if I have three or more cups, I get jittery, which is just no good for anybody. Great post!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

This is really interesting! (she says as she sips coffee)

Clarissa Draper said...

I don't know what I would do if I didn't have coffee. I also do know if I could take the withdrawl symptoms. I'll have to stop gradually. Interesting post. I love what happens to spiders.

Maurice Mitchell said...

800 million gallons? now I don't feel so bad about my one cup a day.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Spider web! so that's what happens to my outlines. ;)
Raises a cup to you for a fine post.

mooderino said...

I wonder why they chose to test it on spiders. I bet ants could handle a cup of joe a lot better.

mood

Janet Johnson said...

Crazy old Aunt Nellie, here. :) I don't like coffee, tea, and even chocolate is questionable for me.

So wow! I must be a mutant. Now . . . Just waiting for my super powers to kick in. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Aww, man. I'm weird like Aunt Nellie! I can't handle caffeine, so I don't drink it.

I do drink (*gasp*) decaf, though! ;) Great post!

Emily R. King said...

Fascinating. I quit caffeine off and on per needed. I'm so glad I'm not addicted to it, though I do miss it from time to time.

LD Masterson said...

Black tea. Must have black tea. Lotsa black tea. None of that herbal stuff. Caffeine!!

Love the spider web.

The Golden Eagle said...

I've never consumed anything caffeinated and dislike chocolate, so I guess I'm a mutant. :P

Sherrie Petersen said...

Those spider webs are awesome! Ha! I'm curious what liver diseases caffeine protects against? I can only consume in small amounts (as in tea instead of coffee) and believe me, I can tell when they give me a caffeinated latte instead of the decaf I always order!

Laura Pauling said...

What a fun post. I'm in the process of cutting back my caffeine slowly so I don't experience the headaches. not sure it's working. :)

Bathwater said...

Perhaps it sounds like ingesting some caffeine, everyday is normal. Perhaps God wanted us this way :)

Krispy said...

Love this post! :)

I've definitely had TOO MUCH caffeine (like that one time I drank a bianca mocha and then chomped down on a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans w/o thinking about how it's ESPRESSO BEANS) and suffered from the headaches and sped up heart rate. But I don't think I've ever had really bad withdrawal - other than being sleepy?

In general, my caffeine tolerance is really high. I can drink a cup of coffee and take a nap right after OR as Alz can attest, tea has virtually no effect on me. I go out for boba milk tea at 10pm all the time, drink the entire thing, and go to bed at midnight w/o a hitch. :P It's weird, also potentially unhealthy? But yay caffeine! :D

April Tucholke said...

I love my swank, snobby, high end espresso. And my matcha. And my yerba mate. And my dark chocolate. Caffeine. You and me forever, baby.

Jennifer Hillier said...

I don't know if I could write without coffee! Well, I could, but it would be really, really painful.

And on that note... time for my second cup. :)

February Grace said...

Oh, I must say I just particularly enjoyed this one. Great post.

xoxo
bru

Yael said...

Those spiderweb pics just made my day.

One night in high school, my friend and I were really bored, so we decided to experiment with caffeine pills. I had three (I'm small and wasn't a regular coffee drinker) and she had six. It was fun for about twenty minutes, and then both of us spent the rest of the night thinking we were going to die.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I love a good cup of coffee or tea, but when I am at home I make half caf coffee.

When I was in college and working several jobs I took a no doze. I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest. I got sent home from my paying job.

I haven't tried a red bull or anything like it. I'm kind of scared of them.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I love a good cup of coffee or tea, but when I am at home I make half caf coffee.

When I was in college and working several jobs I took a no doze. I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest. I got sent home from my paying job.

I haven't tried a red bull or anything like it. I'm kind of scared of them.

LTM said...

OK, first, I can't live without my two cups o joe every morning. But I'm just dying to get some of that Spazzstick! :D LOL!

Here's a question--how come that caffeinated spider's web doesn't look right? What does that mean? :D

Again, a hilarious, informative post. I hope you're doing Grrreat! <3

Caryn Caldwell said...

Ooh! Cool info. Thanks for sharing. I thought I was one of the 10%, but then I remembered that chocolate counts. So, yes, I am the erratic spider in the second photo, not the nice, neat spider in the first one. Oops.

Coleen Patrick said...

For just the briefest moment I thought you were telling me that makeup was a caffeine alternative. Duh, seriously I need more caffeine. It's terrible I've been trying to counteract the effects of a drowsy inducing medication. Not working! But at least I know now that caffeine is kind of like kryptonite for spiders. Or did I get that wrong too? :)

nutschell said...

I wish i could drink coffee. It smells so good. But alas, i get the shakes if I even take a sip. I'm more of a tea drinker anyway:)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

akossiwaketoglo.com said...

This is all very fascinating. Especially the spider and the lip balm parts.
I used to think I couldn't live without coffee until I got pregnant and had to do without.
Now I know I can be coffee free and still function. :)

Cynthia said...

I must have my tea when I'm on a writing binge. But I often drink decaffeinated tea, though even when something's "decaf," I suspect there's a little caffeine in there still.

 
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