Friday, October 29, 2010

What You Don't Know Can Kill You

Man Dies Of Caffeine Overdose


A British man died after poisoning himself with two spoonfuls of caffeine powder bought over the internet, local media reported Friday...

...He washed the powder down with an energy drink, and around 15 minutes later began sweating and vomiting blood. He later died at King’s Mill Hospital in Nottinghamshire, central England, the Nottingham Post reported.

Nottingham Coroner Dr. Nigel Chapman said, "Caffeine is so freely available on the internet for £3.29, but it's so lethal if taken in the wrong dose, and here we see the consequence.
Seriously, it never occurred to me that caffeine could be lethal in large doses. Back in my less-informed youth I used to swallow lots of caffeine pills. (Not just 'me'. Most of my buddies did, too, so maybe we were normal.) I started somewhere around 9th grade, and didn't stop dosing til I was almost into my 20's

It was easily available. Any drug store or pharmacy department had pills for sale, and I bought pretty regular, always exceeding the maximum recommended dosage by a wide margin, and sometimes even wider than that.

We were always looking for a bigger/stronger pill. Count my lucky stars that we didn't have the internet back in the 80's, 'cause I would have been all into this potent shit like a fish in the ocean.

To me, overdoing it meant that I crashed from a high level of exhaustion. Experience telling me that sleep, when needed, would come whether I wanted it to or not, where ever I was at the moment, and no additional amount of caffeine was going to stop that...

... leading me to assume that a health-threatening overdose from the drug itself just wasn't a reality I had to think about.

I never thought it could kill.

Was I wrong.


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Wow, really? You didn't know you could OD on caffeine, just like alcohol and stuff?

Yeah, not too long after I started on the internet I gave myself mild caffeine poisoning with coffee-- between a low tolerance and drinking several pots of it, I had really horrible shakes and a couple of other symptoms.

Every nodoze type pill I've ever seen warns that large doses can be harmful or fatal.

You can kill yourself with most any over the counter, except for (IIRC) IBProfin. (which is why Vitamin Motrin is so in with the military)

I can't think of anything that *won't* make you sick if you have too much. Kids die from ODing on multivitamins every year, we had a guy who nearly killed himself with D.
(His feet were bleeding before he went to a doctor who figured it out-- D dude sells meals with like 100x the minimum daily D dose, and someone moved the decimal point to the right two places. Would've been OK, but he stayed inside and ate only his D meals for a few months.)

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Site for you:

Gino said...

multi-vitamins i know can make you sick. didnt know they could kill.

we used to take them by the fistful, 40+ at a time, and stay awake partying all nite.

they big with the military back in the 80's as well. (i had two buddies that went navy).

i got sick a few times from it. but i didnt stop that until well into my 20s.
i was working two jobs trying to feed the babies, and the multi vitamins came in handy quite often.
i actually prefered the boost from them over caffiene.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

IIRC, iron poisoning is most common for kids and vitamins.

"Hornets" and "yellow jackets" are still popular, as of 2002-2007. (I seem to remember they had about 500mg of caffeine each, which is about a small pot of coffee. Tried *one* once, and never again; it didn't poison me, but I felt ill.)

A good rule of thumb is: if the "max dose" is 1/16th of a TEASPOON, don't do "two spoon fulls." (my mind is supplying the "two spoon fulls" I use for coco, which is the biggest tablespoon we own heaped with mix.)

BRB, measuring.

K, that's about 60ml when I used coffee and one of Kit's bottles. A teaspoon is 5.

Shit, if you're taking ANYTHING that's either a medicine or has been put into pill form for your use, FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS OR YOU COULD DIE.

Although... honestly, most OTC stuff you can triple without harm, assuming you're use to it.
(Knowing your body is important-- my dad gets as out of it from motrin as I do from codeine, just because he NEVER takes ANYTHING. And I'm an utter lightweight-- took me a week to come down from the stuff when I got a c-section; they thought it would take a day.)

Argh... after those moron college kids (mostly girls) managed to give themselves alcohol poisoning so bad they thought they'd been slipped roofies, there's been a push about the canned alcohol/energy drink mixes, like THAT and not "being a young idiot" is why there was an issue.

Oh, screw it. I'm going to bed. *growl, growl, grumble, irresponsible idiots, hiss*

tully said...

That's why I don't drink decaf-coffee. I know that the caffeine they extract is used for this wicked and reckless caffeine-powder industry! I spit on your blood money, Hills Bros!

Jade said...

I remember having insomnia in 9th grade, took No-Doz to stay awake, had to play drums that day in the jazz band for a school assembly. At the end of the show I stood up, walked out of the gym with the band, ducked into the bathroom, and puked.

Never again.

(I'm sending this link to my husband, who will every so often partake in one too many coffee drinks)

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Would take over four gallons of strong coffee to get to the minimum killing level for someone ~180lbs.

Night Writer said...

One day in high school I was really tired (can't remember why) but I could barely stay awake. A friend wsa always taking Vivarin and gave me a few. I took one, and it didn't seem to help right away so between classes I took a second one. Still no apparent affect so at the next break I took the remaining two pills. BIG mistake. When they did kick in I was hyper, paranoid, and generally felt miserable - about as sick as I've ever felt. Later on I'd use V in moderation through finals but allowed time for it to kick in. I didn't become a coffee drinker until I was well into my 20s, but today I thoroughly enjoy two 12-16 cups of coffee a day with no ill affects.

Brian said...

Basically, anything is toxic in a sufficiently high dose. Even water (see hyponatremia in over-hydrated endurance athletes). If you ate 3 grams of table salt, it would (probably) kill you.

Powdered caffeine is dangerous on two fronts: one, because most people don't really know enough about measuring out doses, so it is too easy to take too much, and two, powder is absorbed much faster than a pill, which is absorbed more slowly. So your blood concentration peaks sooner (and higher).

When I was in college, some of us were taking a supplement called Ripped Fuel (which at the time contained both caffeine and ephedra) to stay up and study. I once pulled an all-nighter for an exam on a few of those and a lot of coffee. When I sat for the test, I was literally vibrating. Not fun. Didn't do it again.

(But I aced the test.)

Gino said...

brian: i did get into the practice of taking tests slightly buzzed, but on beer.
seriously, i did well on those, and didnt do well on the sober tests, going back to high school.

i attributed it to being more relaxed instead stressed.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

My uncle swears the only test he ever aced was the day after major surgery...he got torn up pretty bad, so they REALLY had to pump him with pain killers.

Usually, he barely passed-- that time, flying colors.

Gino said...

couldnt have been too 'major'.
i was asleep and doped for over a week after mine.

i think he's yanking your chain.
just like my uncle. i was a teenager before i realized he did NOT have to run from indians on the way home from school.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I believe it was something to do with his hand-- his littlest sister backs him up on it, and she doesn't have that sort of a sense of humor.