Caffeine as a Drug

The primary uses of caffeine as a drug are based on its effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems. Premature infants, for example, are subject to apnea, a transient but potentially dangerous cessation of breathing. Caffeine has been used to control this syndrome. It decreases apneic episodes and regularizes breathing patterns (28). It is also used for the treatment of bronchiospastic disease in asthmatic patients. Caffeine is used widely in drug mixtures designed for relief from migraine-type headaches because of its vasoconstrictor effects on the cerebral circulation. Many OTC preparations of this type are available. They contain 30 to 200 mg of caffeine per tablet. A common application of caffeine's stimulatory effects on the central nervous system is the use of 100- to 200-mg tablets to prevent drowsiness when driving or whenever this condition is undesirable. There are about 2000 nonprescription and about 1000 prescription drugs containing caffeine.

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