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Can caffeine harm your teen’s health?

May 27, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

LISBON - What is caffeine? It's an alkaloid crystalline compound known as C8H10N4O2. It is found in coffee, tea, and other beverages. It can be made artificially and added to foods. It is considered a drug that stimulates the central nervous system making you more alert, boosting energy and affecting your mood. In its natural form it tastes bitter, but processing changes that. It is not stored in the body, but you can feel its effects for about six hours.

Caffeine can affect you in ways you might not suspect. It is a diuretic, making you go to the bathroom more often. It may dehydrate the body so it's not a good idea to consume it when you are working out or sweating a lot. It may cause calcium loss that, over time, will lead to loss of bone density and higher risk of osteoporosis. It can affect heart problems (like hypertension and arrhythmia) and other health conditions, affect how your prescription medications work-or not-, worsen stress and anxiety, and worsen headaches. Withdrawal symptoms include tiredness, irritability and headaches. So when you cut back, do it slowly.

"Bill" was shaky, anxious, had headaches all the time. The doctor asked how much coffee he drank a day.

"Two or three," he answered.

"Cups?" the doctor wanted to know.

"Pots," he answered.

The long and short of it was that "Bill" was dependent on caffeine. The doctor advised him to cut back on coffee consumption. He also advised him that he should cut back slowly. Drinking 100 mg of caffeine daily can make you dependent on it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, advises that eight ounces of energy drinks like So Be No Fear, Monster, Rockstar and Red Bull, have 80 mg of caffeine. Twelve ounces of Jolt Cola has 72 and Mountain Dew, 55 mg, Coca-Cola, 54 mg, Diet Coke, 45 mg., 7-Up, 0 mg. Five ounces of brewed coffee (drip) has 115 mg. You can see why teens and younger children should not drink coffee. Twelve ounces of iced tea has 70 mg. Cold relief medications have 30 mg in one tablet. One tablet of Vivarin has 200 mg. and Excedrin Extra Strength, two tablets, has 130. How much caffeine are you and your teens consuming on a regular basis?

Now look at the energy drinks. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) advises that "Research suggests that certain additives may compound the stimulant effects of caffeine. Some types of energy drinks may also contain alcohol, producing a hazardous combination."

However, in regard to energy drinks that do not have alcohol, "Trend data show a sharp increase in the number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks between 2005 (1,128 visits) and 2008 and 2009 (16,053 and 13,114 visits, respectively), representing about a tenfold increase between 2005 and 2009."

About half of those energy drink-related ER visits were situations in which energy drinks were combined with alcohol or other drugs. Males are more likely to mix alcohol with energy drinks. Females are more likely to combine their energy drinks with pharmaceuticals. Both situations resulted in "adverse reactions."

Safe levels of caffeine for adults is 100-200 mg. per day. "Pediatricians recommend that children and adolescents abstain from all stimulant-containing energy drinks."

For more information about caffeine or other substance abuse, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs.

150 Ways to Show Kids You Care is an informative brochure available at FRC for a limited time. How can you show kids that you care? #7. Ask them about themselves. #8. Look in their eyes when you talk to them. #9. Listen to them.



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