What is Caffeine Sensitivity?

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  • Written By: O. Parker
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 March 2020
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Many people consume caffeine one or more times a day to increase mental focus and improve energy, though for some this common stimulant may cause adverse effects. Caffeine sensitivity is a condition in which a person develops symptoms such as anxiety or irritability after consuming caffeine. The severity of sensitivity can vary between individuals. Some people are highly sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine, while others can ingest large quantities without feeling any ill affects. Caffeine is present in coffee, black and green tea, and in many cola products.

Common symptoms of caffeine sensitivity are anxiety, restlessness, and irritability that range in intensity from mild to severe, depending on the person. Symptoms that are more distressing include muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, and nausea. Caffeine headaches are another common symptom of sensitivity to caffeine. Though caffeine is a stimulant, some people experience fatigue after consuming caffeinated beverages or products. Caffeine can also disrupt sleep patterns, causing difficulties in falling asleep and a less restful sleep at night.

While caffeine sensitivity is fairly common and often causes only mild symptoms, some people have a more serious caffeine intolerance and experience severe adverse reactions to even small amounts of this stimulant. Caffeine intolerance includes all the symptoms of sensitivity to caffeine but with greater severity. Additional symptoms, though rare, include rash and seizures.


Caffeine intoxication is another symptom of caffeine sensitivity and over consumption of caffeinated products. This condition is associated with consumption of large amounts of caffeine in a short period. Oftentimes, 250mg of caffeine consumed within a few hours can lead to caffeine intoxication. Caffeine intoxication includes symptoms associated with caffeine intolerance and sensitivity. In addition, rambled speech, long periods of inexhaustibility and a flushed face may occur.

People who don't drink coffee or caffeinated beverages on a regular basis typically are more susceptible to experiencing symptoms of caffeine sensitivity. Other factors that can contribute to the likelihood of a symptomatic response include stress, body weight, and smoking. Those who have been diagnosed with a nervous disorder usually are more prone to symptoms as well. Interestingly, men seem to be more likely to have a sensitivity to caffeine than women.

The best way to treat caffeine sensitivity is to reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption. Many products such as chocolate, tea, coffee, cola, and deserts contain caffeine. Most energy drinks rely on high levels of caffeine as a stimulant as well. Even decaffeinated coffee and tea can contain small amounts of caffeine.


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Post 2

I have a caffeine sensitivity issue and if I drink a single cup of tea in the morning it gives me heart "twinges" later in the evening and my night's sleep will be very restless. It only started when I was about 41 years old.

Post 1

My husband suffers from caffeine sensitivity and has to avoid caffeinated drinks and coffee. If he drinks a cup of coffee in the morning it will affect his sleep patterns later in the evening.

I know this because when we were dating he drank a coffee cooler with me and he said that he was up all night because he could not sleep. I didn’t know that he had caffeine sensitivity at the time but I later realized that this was the case and just never suggested the drink again.

I also don’t let my kids drink anything with caffeine because they have enough energy as it is they don’t need any more.

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