Caffeine Sensitivity and Other Causes of Shakiness

Does That Shakiness Come From Caffeine Sensitivity, or Something Else?

Most people chalk up trembling hands, or a jittery foot, to over-doing it on the coffee that morning. And while that may be true for many folks, others have chronic problems that cause that intermittent shakiness. For example, having actual caffeine sensitivity is different than simply adding one too many espresso shots to your morning Venti.

What is Caffeine Sensitivity?

“Caffeine sensitivity” refers to having more extreme reactions to caffeine products than those experienced by the general population. On average, most people can consume about 400 milligrams of caffeine, or about 5 cups of coffee, over the course of a day without adverse side effects. But those with caffeine sensitivity feel the side effects on much less caffeine — sometimes after just a few sips.

Classic symptoms of caffeine sensitivity include tremors and headache. You may also feel anxious without having something to be nervous about. In fact, some people experience a racing heartbeat and anxiety to the point of having a panic attack. Other possible side effects include not being able to settle down, or having trouble sleeping, well after consuming caffeine.

The obvious solution? Remove caffeine from your life. If you think you can handle a small amount, greatly reducing your consumption. Don’t exceed 30 to 50 milligrams a day. (That’s equal to a cup of green tea, or a half-cup of regular coffee.)

It’s also important to read labels, because caffeine isn’t just in coffee and tea. Sodas, energy drinks, energy bars, candy, and even medication can all be fairly high in caffeine.

Additional Shake-Inducers

If you’ve ruled out caffeine sensitivity, something else may be causing your tremors. Among the culprits to consider:

  • Pinched nerve. Anything from an old injury to poor posture can cause swelling that puts pressure on a nerve. If tremors, numbness or weakness seems to be localized to one area, a pinched nerve may be to blame. Internal swelling in the neck or shoulder region can make hands shake, while leg tremors often come from lower back problems. Physical therapy, yoga classes, or stretching at home may help the problem. See a doctor first to verify the suspected pinched nerve.
  • Dehydration. Whether it’s an occasional hangover or poor dietary habits, a lack of hydration often results in shaking. (Hangovers give you the double whammy of both dehydration and plummeting blood sugar. Both factors lead to tremors, especially in the hands.) Drink plenty of water, and reduce consumption of liquids that act as diuretics, including soda, coffee, tea, and alcohol.) In addition, eat more foods with high water content, such as cucumbers, celery, and watermelon.
  • Anxiety. You don’t have to endure a major scare to bring on trembling. Ongoing tension can also lead to chronic shakiness and feelings of a panic attack. Many people find that a multi-pronged approach to anxiety issues works best. Consider combining talk therapy with lifestyle alterations such as drinking soothing herbal teas and starting yoga. Prescription medication is also helpful for many people.  
  • Other complications. Your shakiness may cause you concern because of the more serious problems associated with it, such as Parkinson’s. Your doctor can help you rule out these less common causes of shakiness.

Finding Help

Sometimes it’s not obvious what’s causing those shakes. The good news? A range of conditions can be soothed by the dedicated team at BackFit. You can indulge in a soothing massage after over-doing caffeine, or longer-term solutions, including physical therapy to address pinched nerves.   

Make an appointment today!

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