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Generic name: Caffeine
Brand names: NoDoz, Vivarin, Revive, Stay Awake, Enerjets, Lucidex
Drug class: CNS stimulants
Companies: various generic manufacturers, Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. (NoDoz), GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (Viviarin)

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Aug 22, 2023.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It works by stimulating the brain. Caffeine is found naturally in foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, colas, energy and chocolate. Botanical sources of caffeine include kola nuts, guarana, and yerba mate. Caffeine is also available in prescription and non-prescription medications.

Caffeine is used to restore mental alertness or wakefulness during fatigue or drowsiness. Caffeine is also found in some headache and migraine medications, in certain dietary supplements used for weight loss, and in many popular energy drinks.

Caffeine citrate (Cafcit) is available by prescription only. It is used for short-term treatment of neonatal apnea (breathing problems).

Caffeine may also be used for other conditions as determined by your health care provider.

Do NOT use caffeine:

  • if you are allergic to any ingredient in caffeine or caffeine products
  • in children less than 12 years of age; over-the-counter (OTC) caffeine formulations are not proven safe and effective for use in this age group
  • as a substitute for sleep

What Should I Know Before Using Caffeine?

Some medical conditions may interact with caffeine. Tell your health care provider if you have ANY medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
  • if you have allergies to caffeine, other medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, or herbal or dietary supplement
  • if you have anxiety, agitation or nervousness, liver or stomach (ulcer) problems, insomnia (trouble sleeping), seizures (convulsions), or heart disease, especially any abnormal heart rhythms or high blood pressure
  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
Drug interactions may occur with caffeine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
  • Quinolones (i.e., ciprofloxacin)
  • Theophyllines
  • Duloxetine
  • Ephedra or Guarana
  • Rasagiline
  • Tizanidine

This is NOT a complete drug interaction list. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine. A complete drug interaction check should be completed prior to your use of caffeine or any medication.

How Should I Use Caffeine?

Use caffeine as directed by your health care provider. If the medication is OTC, check the label on the bottle for the exact dosing instructions. If you have any questions about the use of an OTC medication, ask your pharmacist.
  • Caffeine may be taken with or without food. If caffeine upsets your stomach, take it with food.
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose of caffeine. Caffeine can be habit-forming.
  • Most OTC medications used for mental alertness contain 200 milligrams of caffeine per tablet or capsule. The usual maximum recommended dose of OTC caffeine is no more than 200 mg every 3-4 hours, or 1600 mg per day.
  • Do not double-up on your caffeine dose if you should miss the time for next dose.
  • The average cup of coffee contains 150-200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per cup, while a cup of tea will have about 60 mg of caffeine. Cola products have about 30-40 mg of caffeine, and most energy drinks have about 60-70 mg. Be sure to account for any dietary caffeine that is consumed.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use caffeine.

Important safety information:

  • Caffeine may cause dizziness. Do not drive or operate machinery, or engage in dangerous tasks until you know how caffeine might affect you.
  • Avoid large amounts of caffeine-containing foods and beverages, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, cola drinks, energy drinks and chocolate if you are taking higher doses of caffeine tablets. This also includes any herbal, dietary, or prescription medications that contain caffeine.
  • Caffeine is not to be used as a substitute for sleep.
  • Caffeine use may alter blood sugar levels. Diabetes patients should more closely regulate their blood sugar while taking caffeine.
  • Caffeine is not recommended for use in children less than 12 years of age. Safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been confirmed.
  • If you are pregnant, discuss with your health care provider if caffeine is appropriate for your use.
  • Caffeine is excreted into breast milk. Consult with your health care provider about the risks of using caffeine while you are breast-feeding. Caffeine may cause side effects in your baby.

Common side effects of Caffeine:

  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • nervousness or anxiety
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • headache

Seek medical attention right away if any of these severe side effects occur:

  • serious allergic reactions (difficult breathing, chest tightness, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, rash, hives, or itching)
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • increased blood pressure
  • chest pain

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. Call your health care provider for medical advice about side effects.

In case of overdose:

  • immediately contact your local poison control center, or emergency room
  • call 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers).

Symptoms of overdose may include agitation; anxiety; confusion; frequent urination; irregular or fast heartbeat; muscle twitching; ringing in the ears; seizures; stomach pain; trouble sleeping.

Proper storage of Caffeine:

Store caffeine at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C), in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep caffeine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about caffeine, please talk with your health care provider.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your health care provider.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information is a summary only. Consult with your health care provider for additional questions or concerns about the use of caffeine.

More Caffeine resources

Compare Caffeine with other medications for


1. Caffeine tablet [package insert]. Woonsocket, RI; CVS Pharmacy. 2011 August

Popular FAQ

Fioricet contains 40 mg of caffeine, similar to a cup of tea. The following shows the average amount of caffeine in some common beverages:

  • 8 oz of coffee: 80 to 100 mg of caffeine
  • 8 oz green or black tea: 30 to 50 mg of caffeine
  • 12 oz caffeinated soda: 30 to 40 mg of caffeine

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.