Energy Drink-Related ER Visits Double In 4 Years
Drink at your own risk. A new survey conducted by the government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found the number of people seeking emergency treatment after consuming energy drinks doubled in four years’ time. Between 2007 and 2011 the total number of emergency room visits involving beverages such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar increased from 10,000 to more than 20,000—mostly involving teenagers and young adults.
Although the report doesn’t specify patient symptoms, it does label energy drink consumption a “rising public health problem,” that can cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat and seizures. While more than half of the patients who visited the emergency room in 2011 reported they had consumed only energy drinks, about 42 percent drank the beverages in combination with alcohol or drugs.
“A lot of people don’t realize the strength of these things. I had someone come in recently who had drunk three energy drinks in an hour, which is the equivalent of 15 cups of coffee,” Howard Mell, an emergency physician in the suburbs of Cleveland, who serves as a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, told the Associated Press. “Essentially he gave himself a stress test and thankfully he passed. But if he had a weak heart or suffered from coronary disease and didn’t know it, this could have precipitated very bad things.”
Two senators are actually calling for the Food and Drug Administration to investigate concerns about energy drinks and their ingredients after 18 deaths occurred last fall that may have been connected to energy drinks—including a 14-year-old Maryland girl who died after drinking two large cans of Monster energy drinks.
“We will examine this additional information … as a part of our ongoing investigation into potential safety issues surrounding the use of energy-drink products,” FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said in a statement. But the energy drink industry says there is no proof linking its products to any adverse reactions.
“This report does not share information about the overall health of those who may have consumed energy drinks, or what symptoms brought them to the ER in the first place,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement. “There is no basis by which to understand the overall caffeine intake of any of these individuals—from all sources.“
Energy drink sales rose by nearly 17 percent in 2011—including double-digit gains by the top three companies Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar—according to Beverage Digest. Consumers aged 18 to 25 are the most common age group seeking emergency treatment for reactions related to the beverages, according to the government’s report.
“We were really concerned to find that in four years the number of emergency department visits almost doubled, and these drinks are largely marketed to younger people,” said Al Woodward, a senior statistical analyst with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration who worked on the report.
[Image via Shutterstock]
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