Fast Five Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of Caffeine Consumption, Toxicity, and Overdose

Richard H. Sinert, DO


January 26, 2018

The thyroid should be examined because thyrotoxicosis may mimic caffeine toxicity. The pupils are dilated but reactive to light.

When ingested chronically in excessive amounts, caffeine produces a specific toxidrome (caffeinism), which consists of primarily CNS, cardiovascular, and GI hyperstimulation.

Vital signs may include tachypnea and tachycardia. On blood pressure measurement, a characteristic finding is widened pulse pressure due to the positive inotropic effect as well as the vasodilatory effect of caffeine. Hypotension may be present.

CNS features include the following:

  • Headache

  • Lightheadedness

  • Anxiety, agitation

  • Tremulousness, perioral and extremity tingling (resulting from tachypnea-induced respiratory alkalosis)

  • Confusion, psychosis

  • Seizures

Cardiovascular features include the following:

  • Palpitations or racing heart rate

  • Chest pain

GI findings include the following:

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal cramping

  • Hyperactive bowel sounds

For more on the presentation of caffeine toxicity, read here.


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