Generic Name: caffeine (KAF-een)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 27, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- No Doz Maximum Strength
- Stay Awake
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: CNS Stimulant
Chemical Class: Methylxanthine
Uses for caffeine
Caffeine tablets are used as an alertness aid to help you keep awake when you experience drowsiness or unusual tiredness or weakness. Do not use caffeine as substitute for sleep.
Caffeine oral solution is used to treat short-term apnea of prematurity when premature babies (infants between 28 and 32 weeks gestational age) stop breathing. Apnea of prematurity is caused by the baby's breathing centers not being fully developed.
Caffeine is available with or without your doctor's prescription.
Before using caffeine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For caffeine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to caffeine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of caffeine tablets in children younger than 12 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of caffeine oral solution in premature babies.
No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of caffeine in geriatric patients.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking caffeine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using caffeine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using caffeine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Iobenguane I 131
- Peginterferon Alfa-2b
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using caffeine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use caffeine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of caffeine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Anemia or
- Central nervous system problems or
- Heart or blood vessel problems or
- Lung disease or breathing problems (eg, obstructive apnea) or
- Sepsis (infection in the blood)—Should be ruled out or treated first before using caffeine oral solution.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of caffeine oral solution from the body.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis or
- Seizures, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper use of caffeine
Take caffeine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
Caffeine comes with a patient information leaflet. Read the information carefully and make sure you understand it before taking caffeine. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor.
Swallow the tablets whole. Do not break, crush, or chew it.
If you are using the oral liquid:
- Give caffeine at the same time each day.
- Measure the oral liquid with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. The average household teaspoon may not hold the right amount of liquid.
- Caffeine may be given through mouth or a feeding tube.
- You might not use all of the medicine in each vial (glass container). Use each vial only one time. Do not save an open vial. If the medicine in the vial or syringe has changed color, or if you see particles in it, do not use it.
The dose of caffeine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of caffeine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (solution):
- For treatment of apnea of prematurity:
- Premature babies—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your baby's doctor. The dose is usually given once a day.
- For treatment of apnea of prematurity:
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- For mental alertness or wakefulness:
- Adults and children 12 years of age and older—200 milligrams (mg) not more often than every 3 to 4 hours per day.
- Children younger than 12 years of age—Use is not recommended.
- For mental alertness or wakefulness:
If you miss a dose of caffeine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions while using caffeine
Your doctor will check your progress closely while you or your child are receiving caffeine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to receive it.
If you are using caffeine solution:
- Call your baby's doctor right away if your baby continues to have apnea.
- Tell your baby's doctor right away if your baby has one of the following symptoms: faster heartbeat, increased diaper wetting, restlessness, jitteriness, or shaking.
- Call your baby's doctor right away if your baby has the following symptoms: abdominal or stomach distension, vomiting, or bloody stools. These may be symptoms of a serious bowel or stomach problem.
- Do not change your baby's dose without checking first with your baby's doctor.
If you are using caffeine tablets:
- Limit the use of medicines, foods, or beverages that contain caffeine. Taking too much caffeine may cause nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, and rapid heartbeat.
- Check with your doctor if you have drowsiness, tiredness, or weakness that keeps coming back.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Caffeine side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Feeding intolerance
- black, tarry stools
- blood in the stools or urine
- burning feeling or tenderness in the stomach
- coughing or vomiting blood
- decreased urine output
- fast heartbeat
- muscle twitching
- persistent bleeding
- rapid, shallow breathing
- rapid weight gain
- severe stomach pain
- stomach upset
- swelling of the face, ankles, or hands
- trouble breathing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- rapid heartbeat
- trouble sleeping
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Dry skin
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Frequently asked questions
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More about caffeine
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- 28 Reviews
- Drug class: CNS stimulants
- Patient Information
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