Nancy Dell: Caffeine addiction; Bacteria in sponges

1. Can you be addicted to caffeine?
Tony, Internet

Thirty-three percent of caffeine users report that they need caffeine to function and the World Health Organization recognizes the existence of “caffeine use disorder”. So you can be addicted.

The FDA says 400 milligrams a day is safe for most healthy adults. That is the amount in two to three 8 oz. cups of brewed coffee. According to experts at Johns Hopkins higher amounts may cause abnormal heart rates, anxiety, nausea, and tremors.

If you feel you need to cut back on caffeine, you may develop depression, fatigue and flu-like symptoms within 12 to 24 hours. So cut back gradually by making your coffee or ordering it with one quarter decaf to start and over the course of a few months gradually increase the decaf portion to one third, then one half and so on until your caffeinated coffee is only equal to 16 ounces or less each day.

How does the caffeine in tea compare to coffee? It depends on the type of tea and how long you brew it, but on average tea has about 80% less caffeine than coffee.

2. Is it safe to use sponges to clean countertops? I thought they are full of bacteria.
Kelly, Internet

Bacteria do love to grow in a wet sponge but you can clean them. Run sponges through the dishwasher every day or microwave a wet sponge for one minute to kill bacteria.

When you wash your countertops with a sponge, use soap and water to kill viruses.  Commercial disinfectants like Clorox and Lysol kill bacteria but not virus or parasites. In addition, when you do use disinfectants, remember they need to be on the surface for 30 to 60 seconds to kill bacteria. So spray and wait before you wipe.

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