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Caffeine, lightheadedness

Created date

March 28th, 2014

Q. Is caffeine good or bad for your health? It seems as if a new study comes out every day.

A. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Small to moderate amounts don’t tend to be harmful for most people, but if you have heart disease, you may have to limit your intake because it can raise blood pressure and stress the heart. Some people have side effects such as stomach upset, sleep disruptions, or jitteriness after having caffeine even in small amounts. We know from research that up to 200 mg—equivalent to two 5-oz cups of coffee—is considered safe for most people. Evidence is not conclusive, however, that caffeine protects against diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or dementia-related illnesses. Your doctor can advise you about whether or not caffeine is safe for you.

Q. Why do I feel lightheaded or dizzy sometimes for no apparent reason? My doctor can’t give me an answer.

A. Feeling lightheaded or dizzy on occasion is not necessarily a concern. As you age, sometimes your heart and blood pressure don’t adjust quickly to a change in position, such as when you stand up from being seated or sit up after lying down. Other causes include colds or flu, allergies, dehydration, or medication side effects. If you have vertigo along with dizziness or regularly lose your balance, you might have a problem in your brain or inner ear, or have a balance disorder. Even if a cause can’t be found, you need to guard against falls if you experience dizziness. Take steps to fall-proof your home by improving lighting and getting rid of clutter. Use assistive devices such as canes or walkers and be sure to talk to a physical therapist about proper use. If periods of dizziness continue to cause concern, see your doctor again for a new evaluation.

Leslie Rigali, D.O.

Medical Director, Village

Peabody, Mass.

Dr. Rigali received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass., and her degree in osteopathic medicine from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine. She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Carney Hospital in Boston. She is board-certified in internal medicine. She joined Brooksby Village in October 2006.