Caffeine acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system (CNS) that increases the speed of message transmission to and from the brain. The chemical name of this substance is 1,3,7 - trimethylxanthine. It is one of the popular and widely used drugs round the globe. It is mostly found in many plant species like coffee, tea, kola nuts, cacao pod and guarana paste. This drug, also known as "wake-up" stimulant that causes many negative effects on the human body. Caffeine in the body activates the secretion and production of cAMP -phosphodiesterase enzyme that is converted into cyclic AMP over a period of time. This process again triggers the production of protein kinase A that further initiates the phosphorylation and glucose synthesis.
Amphetamine and methamphetamine that are formed during this process increase the heart rate and gastric acid secretion. Theophylline and paraxanthine that are the resultants of the process of metabolism of caffeine, increase heart rate and release fatty acid respectively. Though this stimulant is mostly used to overcome fatigue, restore alertness and increase concentration, still it has many side-effects. The negative effects of caffeine on the body in general, on pregnant woman and children will be discussed here.
Health Risks of Caffeine on the Human Body
Caffeine overdose is capable of contributing to increased blood pressure and results increased left heart ventricular output, tachycardia and increased stroke volume.
The studies have shown that caffeine in the human body can activate hyperarousal or acute stress response. But when the caffeine present in the human body exceeds, the acute stress response is altered into a panic attack. Shaking hands, excessive sweating and hyperventilation are some of the common signals of panic attack.
The consumption of caffeine have also increased the chances of abnormality in the breast. This sometimes lead to the abnormal development of the lumps in the breast that might be painful. These lumps are due to the irregular menstrual cycle and hormonal imbalance because of caffeine.
Is caffeine a diuretic? The answer is yes. It increases the flow of urine that simultaneously causes lack of water in the body is one of the most common negative effects of caffeine. The dehydration caused due to it can even lead to end of life. The caffeinated drugs should be avoided especially in the circumstances that lead to sweating during warm weather or exercises.
Deficiency of Calcium
The consumption of caffeinated drinks and beverages drains away the calcium from the body. The deficiency of calcium increases the chances of osteoporosis and reduces the bone density.
Health Risks of Caffeine During Pregnancy
Intake of 200 gm of caffeine, either orally or through injection have doubled the risk miscarriage in comparison to the women who do not take caffeine at all. The caffeine affects the baby through the placenta and hinders the development of the brain and heart of the baby.
Rise in Blood Pressure
Caffeine and blood pressure go hand-in-hand. The rise in blood pressure can also be observed because of the stimulant property of the caffeine. The rise generally worsens the situation caused by pre-eclampsia in the second trimester of pregnancy. The increased blood pressure hinders the flow of blood in the placenta and thus, has negative impact on the fetus.
Low Weight of Fetus
As the caffeine interrupts the growth of the unborn babies and so the weight loss or low birth weight is observed in the babies whose mothers consume caffeine. Sometimes premature labor is also observed due to the intake of this drug.
Dehydration is observed during pregnancy as well that leads to diuretic situation. The loss of fluid through urinary tract and kidney can lead to premature labor and drop in amniotic fluid level.
Health Risks of Caffeine on Children
As said earlier, caffeine is a CNS stimulating drug which addicts the consumers. The addiction to caffeine leads to withdrawal symptoms when this addictive drug is not available for consumption. The most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms are depression and irritability.
Caffeine increases the rate of heartbeat and causes irritation and nervousness in children. It makes the child's mind unstable thus, making it difficult for him to concentrate. Sometimes caffeine is also responsible for elevating the already existing heart problems in children.
Children start feeling drowsy and may have effects for few hours after taking caffeine. If caffeine is taken before sleeping, then one might face lack of sleep or insomnia. Once a child becomes addicted to caffeinated beverages, then after some time his sensitivity towards caffeine might reduce.
As in adults and pregnant women, diuretic in children is also observed as one of the negative effects of caffeine. The loss of water is observed due to excess of urination. So, the consumption of water should be increased to compensate for the loss of water. The excessive loss of water can be fatal during the hot weather.
The consumption of caffeine of just 4.5 mg per weight of the body that is equivalent to four soda cans can have grave effects on kids. They might feel symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, nausea,, muscle twitching and cramps. Some medicines even react with the caffeine to cause severe side effects.
After learning about the negative effects of caffeine, the consumption of caffeinated drinks and beverages should be reduced to a minimum. Caffeinated drinks, if taken moderately has many health benefits, but once it becomes an addiction leads to grave aftermath. So, to stay away from these side effects of caffeine do not let it become an addiction.