Monday, July 30, 2007

Caffeine Withdrawal Recognized as Disorder

I like me some o' that caffeine. I usually have a Diet Mountain Dew for breakfast (I know, I know. But it's no different from a cup of coffee, right?), something similar with my lunch and dinner, and often another one with a snack. So, always three and sometimes four or even more. I KNOW I drink too much pop. Too much caffeine. Too much artificial sweetener and whatever other chemicals and crap they stir into those lovely tasting, sparkly, addictive drinks. I KNOW I should drink more water.

But Tom came in last night and casually mentioned that he had seen a news report that more people who drink caffeinated drinks have heart problems than those that don't. Now, as you know, we are planning to retire in a couple of years. It would not be good to keel over with a stroke and die before I can actually enjoy my retirement. I knew he was probably right, but I did a little research. And, let me just tell you, it's a little scary. One cup a day increases the risk of heart attack by 24%. Two - three cups increase it by 67%. And four or more cups increase it by 133%. 133% people. Those are not very good odds. And that's just a CUP of coffee - there is more than a cup in a can of pop.

So, I decided I was going to have to cut back on the caffeine. I wasn't crazy enough to give it up completely because I knew there would be some withdrawal. I have had a caffeine headache before when, for some reason, I couldn't get my fix and I wasn't looking forward to it. It's a little embarrassing to admit that I have an addiction (and not a harmless one like my shoe addiction) but there it is. I am Mrs. Who. And I am addicted to diet pop. I decided to start having water for dinner. That's pretty easy.

The first morning I woke up with a headache. That's not uncommon for me since I get sinus headaches and migraines often, so I took some medicine and went on my merry way. Especially merry once I had my Diet Mountain Dew.

Then, this morning. I woke up with a headache. Quite a pounder. But I also felt nauseated, achy and just generally kind of funny. I had to get some lab work done, just as part of my annual physical, so I couldn't eat or drink anything. That compounded the problem. By the time I got to the clinic, I felt awful. I took some headache medicine, but it wasn't helping. I knew in advance I would need an immediate infusion of pop right after the lab work, so I had a container of ice and a Diet Mountain Dew in my car. AS SOON as I got in the car, I poured out that sucker and gulped it down. Felt better pretty quickly.

As soon as I got to school, I did a little more research. This will be a little more complicated than I thought. But I'm glad I decided to do it.

"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."

This is crazy and a little scary. And now I'm definitely cutting back. But I think I'll cut out lunch pop instead of dinner pop. Going from lunch the day before to breakfast the next morning is just too long. My body simply can't take it. And, typing that, I feel like a crack cocaine whore. But I'm going to take 12 hours at a time. And, when I'm adjusted to that, I'll cut out the dinner pop.

I don't think I want to be a junkie anymore.

Check it out if you are a caffeine junkie too.


Nikky said...

OK, Mrs Who, you inspire me...I heard that whole heart thing, too, and even before that, I knew I drank too much Diet Pepsi. I get those little 12 oz bottles, and I easily do 5 or so per day, and sometimes I even throw in a 20oz one from the store if I go out. I've bought myself a nice big pitcher and some Country Time pink lemonade in a huge Sam's Club/Costco sized drum, plus they had bottled water on sale, so I stocked up on that. I must decrease my soda intake as well, so I expect the headaches to start shortly.
We can get through this together!!

Beck said...

Mountain Dew in Canada has no caffeine, so I always have this "Whaaa?" moment when I see it mentioned in a caffeine-y context.

Boo said...

I cut out caffeine with the whole trying to get pregnant stuff and it is HARD!! I know you can get caffeine free drinks at the grocery but when you go out to eat your ONLY option is usually water! And I'm sorry but water gets old. I drink a lot of water but sometimes I need flavor!! Anyways, I can relate!! :)

Back Nine said...

I found this a tougher habit to break than nicotine. In fact, I haven't smoked in many years. But I'm back up to 3 cups of java everyday. It had to do with moving to the Seattle area. There. I've found something to blame other than ME.