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The Link Between Energy Drinks and ER Visits

Reaching for an energy drink when you need an early morning spike, an after-lunch boost or an evening lift, can have serious health ramifications. Recent studies have shown a drastic rise in the incidents of ER visits due to the dangerous effects of drinking energy drinks.

“Energy drinks and energy shots can be very dangerous to your health,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Rajesh Rao. “If you choose to drink energy drinks, sooner or later you may be visiting the doctor or the ER.”

What are the facts?

In a prominent study over four years, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found a ten-fold increase in hospital-related emergency room visits due to energy drink consumption. People aged 18-24 had the highest number of ER visits, followed by those aged 26-39. Almost half of the energy drink abuses had been combined with alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs.

Who is at risk?

With colorful packaging and youthful advertising, energy drinks are being targeted to children and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any beverage containing caffeine for children or adolescents. Further, they have said that “children should not consume” these products.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued a statement to discourage energy drink consumption by children and adolescents. They say that “increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people.”

What harm can happen from drinking energy drinks?

There are a variety of symptoms caused by drinking energy drinks and energy shots including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability & restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay
  • Headaches

What’s in energy drinks?

The main appeal of energy drinks is the high amount of caffeine. This gives an immediate energy spike, followed by an energy crash later on. Coupled with enormous amounts of sugar, energy drinks cause an energy crash that is much worse than if the person had not consumed the drink to begin with.

In addition, energy drinks contain ingredients such as ginseng and guarana which, along with the sugar, contribute to similar symptoms as those above and are shown to enhance the effects of caffeine. There are other chemical additives in energy drinks and shots that are not fully understood, as well. To compare caffeine amounts in different beverages that you enjoy, click here.

What’s the alternative to energy drinks?

“I recommend a consistent diet of protein, vegetables and fruits, along with getting plenty of sleep each night, for the best energy possible without artificially adding harmful substances to your system,” said Dr. Rao. “Stay hydrated with fresh water or sparkling water and get plenty of exercise. However, if you follow these guidelines and are still feeling run-down and low on energy, it’s time to have your doctor examine you. There could be an underlying condition, such as anemia, that needs to be addressed.”

Where can I get help?

If you’re suffering symptoms from large caffeine or other substance consumption, come to the nearest Advance ER for prompt emergency treatment. We’re open 24/7 for all your emergent medical conditions. Check out our two convenient locations.