Serious caffeine addiction withdrawal symptoms can land you in the ER

Wake up. Drink coffee. Get to work and have another cup. Afternoon slump? you know what to do. An addiction to caffeine is something most of us can admit we have.

But what happens when the caffeine in your system starts to wear off? Headaches and irritability are tell-tale signs of a caffeine withdrawal, which can get pretty severe and sometimes even dangerous.

"People end up in the ER just because of caffeine withdrawal," Ted Kallmyer, a caffeine expert for, told Fox 5. "Anyone that consumes caffeine daily can have a caffeine withdrawal."

He said the majority of people who have severe withdrawal symptoms are those that quit caffeine cold turkey. It could mean something as small as a headache or as serious as a panic attack.

"It can affect their sleep, it can affect their concentration, attention, sometimes even job performance," said Dr. Noah Rosen, the director of Northwell Health's Headache Center.

He explained that caffeine blocks adenosine, which is a chemical in the brain that makes you feel tired. Adenosine even looks like caffeine on a molecular level.

"Taking the caffeine away mean the adenosine builds up faster and people feel more fatigued," Rosen said. "The brain doesn't get rid of those toxins so quickly."

But this doesn't mean caffeine withdrawals are unavoidable. If you're trying to quit, Dr. Rosen said, don't do it overnight.

"Taper down slowly, try to maintain at low doses," Rosen said, adding that a slow-and-steady caffeine reduction is the safest way to kick the addiction without feeling the pains of withdrawal.

Kallmyer said that research does support health benefits to drinking coffee and tea but that caffeine consumption becomes a problem if it is excessive.

"The benefits are there, but the key is being able to keep your consumption at a moderate level," Kallmyer said.

So what if you don't want to stop drinking caffeine but you don't want withdrawals when you skip a day? The experts we spoke to said to try to drink the same amount of caffeine around the same time of day.