An allergy to coffee may be deceptive and is unlikely to be diagnosed by a doctor, especially to sensitive people.
Mariska van Aswegen, spokesperson of allergy medicine provider Pharma Dynamics, warns that too much caffeine can lead to caffeine-allergy toxicity or even caffeine-induced anaphylaxis, especially in sensitive people. This can be deceptive and is unlikely to be diagnosed by a doctor.
During times of stress, like when cramming for exams, kids may mistake symptoms for signs of overtiredness, making them reach for another cup or energy drink. This offers minor relief, but just continues to jeopardise the body.
While they may not be used to regularly consuming lots of caffeine, you may also experience sensitivity as the longer a person is exposed to an allergen, the greater the chances of developing an allergy to it.
‘Once this happens, those allergic to caffeine can’t adequately metabolise it. Consequently, they experience hypersensitivity or inflammation in certain organs. So it pays to know your limits with caffeine…’
Advice to students studying for exams or anyone at work…
- Ditch the caffeine for water to give the brain the electrical charge it needs for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.
- Eat a well-balanced diet of fruit and vegetables at least a week prior to and during exam time.
- Take a five-minute break every hour to allow your body to produce more glucose – the fuel you need for studying. Rather opt for snacks such as almonds, blueberries, avocados, fatty fish and yoghurt.
- Get enough sleep and avoid the all-nighters. Studies show that all-nighters impair reasoning and memory for up to four days. Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test, which makes it easier to recall the information later.
- Avoid distractions such as listening to music, texting or tweeting while studying as this will limit your ability to retain information.
Other interesting facts about caffeine
- By drinking three caffeinated energy drinks a day, students could be ingesting more than 500mg of caffeine or 1.5 times the amount of caffeine that is regarded as safe for adult consumption. Two to three cups of coffee (300mg of caffeine) a day is considered safe and teenagers should limit themselves to no more than 100mg of caffeine a day.
- Caffeine’s stimulating properties mask allergic symptoms. Circulating adrenaline (epinephrine) increases in people consuming caffeine. In its synthetic form, epinephrine is the drug of choice for anaphylactic reactions, halting severe allergic reactions. But added to a stimulant reaction, excess adrenaline may induce delusions. And the breakdown of some adrenaline by-products mimics symptoms of schizophrenia.
- A caffeine allergy occurs when your immune system malfunctions and overreacts to the presence of caffeine or too much of it. In order for your condition to be diagnosed as an allergy, your immune system needs to release immunoglobulin E antibodies, also called IgE antibodies, which can be confirmed via a blood test.
- Caffeine is found most commonly in coffee, energy drinks and bars, alcoholic drinks, chocolate, cola-flavoured soft drinks, and tea.
- According to the latest Analytix Business Intelligence Report, titled South Africa Brand Report: Consumers of Energy Drinks – consumption of energy drinks shows an increase in popularity especially among younger consumers. Energy drinks contain about three times the amount of caffeine compared to cola. Approximately 72 percent of its drinkers are between the ages of 15 and 39 years old, more than 4.4 million consumers, with males comprising 52 percent of the market.