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Am I Drinking Too Much Coffee?

Large disposable coffee cup.
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A cup of black coffee.
A cup of coffee.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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It’s sometimes hard to determine if you’re drinking too much coffee, especially since researchers go back and forth on the benefits and possible detriments of coffee and caffeine consumption. Today, many medical professionals suggest that 200-300 milligrams of caffeine a day (about two to three small cups of coffee) should be most people’s limit. There are many exceptions to this rule that should be taken into account when you’re trying to decide if you’re drinking too much.

First off, since the major reason drinking too much coffee can be a problem is because of the amount of caffeine you consume, you should weigh whether you are also drinking other caffeinated beverages. If you drink a couple of cups of coffee a day and then several caffeinated sodas, you’re probably consuming unsafe caffeine limits. Alternately, if you drink energy drinks regularly, any coffee intake may well exceed your caffeine limits for the day.

You should read labels on sodas and energy drinks to decide if even a single cup of coffee means you’re drinking too much. Then make a decision regarding whether to give up a certain amount of soda or energy drink consumption, or whether you should just eliminate coffee. If you have a small build, you may likely find that you should stick to lower coffee amounts, and limit yourself to no more than 200 milligrams a day, sometimes even less.

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Other questions to ask yourself involve how coffee might affect you. If you have poor sleep patterns, you may definitely be drinking too much coffee. When you’re not getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep a night, consider reducing how much coffee and other caffeinated beverages that you drink. Many people also recommend making certain you do not drink coffee at least eight hours before bedtime.

People with certain conditions should probably not drink coffee or should limit its intake. If you have anxiety disorder, heart arrhythmias, stomach problems like diarrhea, or if you are prone to irritability or suffer from conditions like restless leg syndrome or frequent urination, you should probably consider drinking no coffee at all. Further, if you get headaches on a relatively constant basis, caffeine can be the cause. You should try avoiding coffee for a few weeks to see if headaches decrease, though if you’ve used caffeine regularly for a long time, you may find headaches increase in the first few days.

You may also be drinking too much coffee if you take certain types of medications. If you take antibiotics like Cipro® or Noroxin®, caffeine in coffee may not break down and its effects may make you feel shaky. Some medications for asthma cause effects similar to caffeine, including shakiness, and might cause you to feel nervous or irritable if you combine use of these medications with coffee. You should never drink coffee if you use ephedra, which you shouldn’t use at all because of its potential life-threatening effects. Also be wary of pain medications that contain caffeine and limit your coffee intake when you use these.

A little bit of coffee can help make your more mentally alert and may be a great way to start a morning. If you are drinking too much coffee, it will begin to negatively affect you physically and mentally. Count the cups you drink, as well as any other caffeinated beverages you consume, and stay within safe and recommended limits. If you just love the taste of coffee, and you want to drink it all day long, switch out after the first two cups to decaffeinated coffee; you’ll still have that taste you love without potential negative effects.

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Discuss this Article

bear78
Post 8

@anon224173-- If you have a stomach ulcer, even one cup of coffee is too much for you. Caffeine causes stomach acid and it will only make your ulcer worse.

When I had a stomach ulcer, I didn't drink any coffee or tea. It was difficult at first but then I got used to it. I used to only have milk and apple juice.

stoneMason
Post 7

@literally45-- I'm not a doctor and I certainly wouldn't want anyone to decide how much is too much coffee by what I say.

My personal opinion however is that there is no set amount that applies to everyone. It depends on the individual and their body. If someone can drink four or five cups of coffee a day without experiencing any negative side effects, then I think it's okay.

But if someone is experiencing heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach and the like after drinking that amount, then it's definitely too much.

At the end of the day, everyone is different and everyone knows themselves best. So listen to your body. If it's telling you that it's too much then cut back. It's as simple as that in my opinion.

literally45
Post 6

What's the dangers of drinking too much coffee? Can you tell me how many cups of coffee is exactly too much? Is 4 per day too much?

anon224173
Post 5

I am a college student that has recently been drinking six to seven shots of espresso every day. I do not like that I am feeling dependent on it and at the same time I have an ulcer and I am having stomach problems constantly. I don't want to quit drinking coffee until I don't have to study for hours on end. Not really sure the best way to handle this situation.

anon137396
Post 4

I drink approx 60 ounces of coffee a day, which comes out to about 1200 mg of caffeine. I'm never jittery, I sleep fine at night, no gastrointestinal problems, but still I wonder whether or not I'm doing any kind of damage.

All of my coworkers tell me I drink "too much coffee" and that it is "ruining my insides" so I've tried to do some research on what kind of ill effects caffeine can have, but so far I don't have any negative symptoms. Additionally my memory is top notch and I'm always on top of my projects at that office.

I guess I'll just count my blessings and ignore the doomsayers.

ValleyFiah
Post 3

@ GlassAxe- You are absolutely right about caffeine addiction. I can say that I am addicted to caffeine and I have undergone some of the withdrawal symptoms.

I developed a coffee habit of four to six shots of espresso every day.

Some of the symptoms of over-stimulation are dizziness, nausea, jitters and heartburn. Symptoms of withdrawal are the same as over-consumption as well as headaches, stomach cramping, runny nose, and cold/flu like symptoms (feeling run down).

When I wake up in the morning with a runny nose that I can immediately cure with a few shots of espresso, I know it is time to cut back. After a couple weeks of cutting down to no coffee, my symptoms are gone.

GlassAxe
Post 2

There are some telling symptoms of coffee addiction. Caffeine is a stimulant, just the same as cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine, albeit a mild one. Caffeine has psychoactive effects that affect the central nervous systems. This is how a cup of coffee temporarily increases alertness, mood, and energy.

Like any psychoactive stimulant, the effects are temporary and followed by a crash. Tolerances to caffeine also build up over time, so people will often increase the amount of coffee they drink in a day.

Just like other stimulants, caffeine habits can be hard to break, and there are side effects. Because of the effects of caffeine on the brain, the American Psychological Association (APA) considers caffeine addiction a psychological disorder. The APA even wants to add caffeine withdrawal to the next edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM).

mendocino
Post 1

If you need to be particularly alert, maybe because you are taking a test, but do not want to drink another cup of coffee, just smell some coffee instead.

It was found in a study that the smell of coffee dramatically increased the speed and accuracy of participants.

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