Woman almost dies after ingesting 20 grams of caffeine powder

Hyperaxion May 22, 2020

The case occurred in London, England. According to doctors, ingesting between one and two grams of the compound is enough to cause toxic effects on the human body.

A 26-year-old woman ended up at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London due to an overdose she had after ingesting 2 teaspoons of caffeine powder. The case was shared by doctors in the May issue of the British Medical Journal.

Woman almost dies after ingesting 20 grams of caffeine powder
(Credit: Pixabay).

According to specialists, taking between one or two grams of caffeine is enough to cause significant toxic effects, including tachycardia (a heart rate higher than 100 beats per minute), disorientation, breakdown of damaged skeletal muscle (rhabdomyolysis), hallucinations or mania. Even higher doses, usually associated with excessive caffeine intake from supplements, can result in death – five grams of the substance can already be fatal.

Surprisingly, the British woman reported that she had ingested almost 20 grams of caffeine before she started experiencing a fast heartbeat, sweating, anxiety, and difficulty breathing. This amount, according to FDA standards, is equivalent to 56 cups (150 ml each) of coffee. Arriving at the hospital, doctors noticed that, in addition to low blood pressure, her heart rate at rest was high: 109 beats per minute.

An electrocardiogram showed that she suffered from polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (PVT). In addition, other tests have shown metabolic acidosis, a serious electrolyte disorder in which the blood becomes more acidic.

The doctors started to treat her while still awake, but her condition persisted and the patient had to be transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU), where she was sedated with fentanyl and started breathing with the help of a ventilator. The young woman also received activated charcoal, a substance that binds to toxins in the intestine and prevents more caffeine from being absorbed and entering the bloodstream.

Fortunately, the patient left the ICU after a week and recovered under the care of a psychiatric team. According to doctors, the young woman was “lucky to survive the overdose”, as they wrote in the article. The tests showed her caffeine levels at 147.1mg/L, a rate well above the 80mg/L observed in cases of fatal overdoses of the substance.


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