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What Are the Symptoms of a Caffeine Allergy?

By Helena Reimer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The symptoms of a caffeine allergy can affect both the physical and mental well-being of an individual. Some of the physical problems include skin problems, headaches, and heart palpitations. Other symptoms include mood swings, the inability to focus, and hallucinations. Due to the nature of these symptoms, they are often mistaken for other mental health problems such as depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), or schizophrenia. Although many of the symptoms appear to be harmless, they should not be ignored.

A caffeine allergy can occur when an excess amount of caffeine is consumed on a regular basis. The more caffeine that is consumed, the more tolerant one becomes; however, this tolerance can eventually lead to caffeine intolerance. When that happens, the body cannot metabolize the caffeine as it should, and thus, it ends up being absorbed by the organs. As a result, even a small amount of caffeine can trigger a flare-up of the symptoms.

An excess amount of caffeine is known to increase the heart rate in any person whether or not the individual has a caffeine sensitivity. The severity of the effect depends on each individual as some are able to tolerate more than others. Other common symptoms include skin conditions, such as a rash, eczema, and acne. Migraine headaches and chest and muscle pains are also indicators of a caffeine allergy.

Swelling is another negative reaction to caffeine. This can occur in the tongue and throat, as well as in the eyes. If the swelling occurs in the throat, or if the chest feels tight, it can make it difficult for the individual to breathe. An allergy to caffeine can also produce symptoms such as cold sweats and other symptoms that mimic a cold or flu.

For most individuals, caffeine generally helps to improve mood and concentration levels when it is taken in moderation. When a caffeine allergy is present, however, the opposite occurs and can leave the individual unable to focus, confused, and irritable. The loss of focus and concentration resembles the symptoms of ADD, and thus, it is often misdiagnosed and treated as such. In addition, the altered states of the mind often lead to anxiety and depression.

In more severe cases, the individual is prone to experience hallucinations and mania. This type of behavior is often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. A seizure, which is a condition wherein the electrical function in the brain gets disrupted, can also occur in severe reactions to caffeine.

Coffee is one of the most common beverages with caffeine; however, there are many other drinks, such as energy drinks, soft drinks, and teas, that also contain caffeine. Foods with caffeine include chocolate bars and anything that contains chocolate, such as chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream. Avoiding caffeine altogether might not be feasible for some, but reducing its intake reduces the risk of a caffeine allergy.

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Discussion Comments

By LGBTsupport1 — On May 16, 2012

This stinks because this is exactly what happened to me when I had my allergic reaction!

It's been almost four months now, and it's easier to not be depressed when I see it.

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