Your Body on Caffeine

Need a quick boost? What you pick up when you’re looking for a pick-me-up matters.

Back to school means happy things like reconnecting with friends and catching up on summer gossip. One less fun thing? Going back to waking up early and getting out the door fast. You might be tempted to reach for your favorite caffeinated beverage (extra large, please) to jump-start your day. But do you really know what all that caffeine is doing to you? While a little bit of caffeine is not terrible, your body can become dependent on it. And using too much of it too often can lead to long-term health problems and trouble sleeping. In fact, studies have shown that teens are especially vulnerable to some of the issues associated with caffeine consumption, such as dehydration, anxiety, and (gross-out alert) diarrhea. So before you reach for that soda, latte, or energy drink, read on to find out about the effects of caffeine on your body, mind, and mood. 


That feeling of alertness associated with caffeine is caused by caffeine blocking your brain’s receptors for adenosine, a chemical that makes you feel tired. Too much caffeine can cause headaches, confusion, and even hallucinations and convulsions. 


Caffeine prevents your body from metabolizing and absorbing calcium—an essential building block of strong bones. This may put you at risk for a disease called osteoporosis, which makes your bones more vulnerable to breaks as you age.


If you consume caffeine regularly, your body will begin to depend on it. You might feel angry, depressed, or irritable if you stop consuming it. Caffeine can also intensify the symptoms of nervousness and anxiety.


Got the jitters? Caffeine can accelerate your heartbeat. Very large amounts can cause an irregular heartbeat or even cardiac arrest, where your heart stops beating altogether.


Because caffeine increases the volume of acid in your stomach, drinking caffeinated beverages can cause an upset stomach. Too much caffeine can make you feel nauseated or cause you to throw up.

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