Top 10 Energy Drink Dangers
The dangers of energy drinks are getting a lot of press because of the sheer volume of energy stimulating products in the marketplace and the ease of access to these by minors.
While most energy drinks don’t have as much caffeine as a Starbucks’ coffee, they are heavily sweetened and easy to drink, which appeals more to the younger demographic.
Therefore, we are seeing increased incidents of those 18 and younger having dangerous side effects from consuming too many energy drinks at one time.
Top Ten Dangers of Drinking too Many Energy Drinks at One Time
- Cardiac Arrest: While our Death by Caffeine Calculator can show people how many energy drinks at one time would be lethal, this formula doesn’t apply to everyone. Those with underlying heart conditions have gone into cardiac arrest after just a few energy drinks. Before drinking energy drinks or caffeine, be sure to know your heart’s health.
- - A new study showed that energy drinks cause more forceful heart contractions, which could be harmful to some with certain heart conditions.
– One study showed that between 2009 and 2011 there were 4854 calls to poison control centers regarding energy drinks. 51% of these calls were involving children. src
- Headaches and Migraines: Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Changing the amount of caffeine you ingest daily can cause more frequent headaches.
- Insomnia: Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but when abused, they can cause some people to miss sleep all together. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning and can be dangerous to drive or perform other concentration heavy tasks.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Because many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, they can eventually wear out the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
- Drug Interaction: Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with prescription medications especially medications taken for depression.
- Addiction: People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to lack of functioning when unable to have the energy drink or a financial stress from having to buy several energy drinks daily.
- Risky behavior: There was a study published in The Journal of American College Health which showed that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or legal trouble.
- Jitters and Nervousness: Too much caffeine from energy drinks causes some people to shake and be anxious. This can interfere with performing needed tasks or cause emotional issues. A study out of Perth, Australia found that even just one 250ml energy drink can increase anxiety in young men.
- Vomiting: Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and esophagus if frequent.
- Allergic Reactions: Because of the many ingredients in energy drinks reactions could occur, from minor itching to airway constriction.
World Health Organization’s Warning
The World Health Organization (WHO) just released a warning letter concerning the dangers energy drinks pose to young people, especially since they found 68% of adolescents consume them.
To reduce energy drink dangers, the recommend the following to government agencies:
- Establish an upper caffeine limit on all products.
- Enforce labeling requirements and sales restrictions to minors.
- Enforce regulation of the industry to responsibly market their products.
- Train health care workers to recognize and treat overdose from energy drinks.
- Screen patients with a history of substance abuse for heavy consumption of energy drinks.
- Educate the public about the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol.
- Continue researching the negative side effects energy drinks have on young people.
Moderation is Key
Too much of anything can potentially be dangerous, so moderation is recommended when consuming energy drinks as well. Caffeine (trimethylxanthine) and other ingredients in these beverages are drugs and should be respected.
To reduce the potential energy drink dangers education is key. Consumers need to be aware of how much caffeine is in a drink or product and parents need to know exactly what their children are drinking and talk to them about what is safe.
- Menci, D., Righini, F. M., Cameli, M., Lisi, M., Benincasa, S., Focardi, M., & Mondillo, S. (2013). Acute effects of an energy drink on myocardial function assessed by conventional echo-Doppler analysis and by speckle tracking echocardiography on young healthy subjects. Journal of amino acids, 2013.
- Seifert, S. M., Seifert, S. A., Schaechter, J. L., Bronstein, A. C., Benson, B. E., Hershorin, E. R., ... & Lipshultz, S. E. (2013). An analysis of energy-drink toxicity in the National Poison Data System. Clinical toxicology, 51(7), 566-574.
- Trapp, G. S., Allen, K., O'Sullivan, T. A., Robinson, M., Jacoby, P., & Oddy, W. H. (2014). Energy drink consumption is associated with anxiety in Australian young adult males. Depression and anxiety, 31(5), 420-428. study
- US National Library of Medicine
- Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr; 24(2):243-51 (link).