Caffeine Intoxication and Addiction

Holly Pohler


Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2010;6(1):49-52. 

In This Article

Education and Implications for the Nurse Practitioner

The landscape of commercially marketed energy beverages may change. The physiological effects of caffeine will remain constant. Patient education plays a key role in clinical practice. Promoting moderation, counseling on the acute adverse affects, as well as imparting an understanding of the addictive properties of caffeine is essential. A nutritional assessment, even if done in a brief format, may help the clinician glean an understanding of a patient's daily beverage consumption. Asking what and how much of a product is consumed per day provides a foundation to begin the education on caffeine. It is particularly important to begin this process with young children in the hopes it will be reinforced throughout their lifespan. Instruct patients and families to read labels and be familiar with other names caffeine may take (ie, guarana, cola nut). Those with chronic disease states such as diabetes mellitis, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux disease should be informed of the implications caffeine can have on the management of their disease state. Finally, if a patient presents with characteristic withdrawal symptoms, provide supportive reassurance, and symptom-based treatment. Advise the patient on the expected clinical signs and the course of the withdrawal syndrome. For those patients actively being treated for withdrawal symptoms recommend they return to the clinic for evaluation if symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks. Persistent symptoms may suggest an alternate diagnosis.


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