Chugging Energy Drinks Like a Rock Star?

Chugging nonalcoholic energy drinks like a rock star for that pick-me-up feeling could increase your risk of a visit to the emergency department. In fact, the number of hospital ED visits related to the consumption of energy drinks increased by more than 11-fold between 2005 and 2009, according to findings from a new government report released on Nov. 22.

Image via Flickr user rynosoft by Creative Commons License

In addition, 52% of the energy drink–related visits made by young adults aged 18-25 years involved combinations of alcohol or other drugs, compared with 44% of visits made by those aged 26-39 years, 28% of visits made by those aged 12-17 years, and 30% of visits made by those aged 40 years and older.

“Excessive caffeine intake from energy drinks can cause arrhythmias, hypertension, and dehydration, in addition to sleeplessness and nervousness,” according to the report, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). “Additional risks and other medical complications can arise depending on the individual’s overall health status (for example, cardiac conditions, eating disorders, diabetes, anxiety disorders) and other drugs or medications prescribed (for example, those for attention deficit disorder). Use over time can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms.”

The number of ED visits involving energy drinks reached 1,128 in, but jumped to 16,053 in 2008 and 13,114 in 2009, a  more than 11-fold increase between 2005 and 2009. More than two-thirds of visits (67%) were classified as adverse reactions.

While a 5-ounce cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine, the amount of caffeine in canned or bottled energy drinks ranges from 80 mg to more than 500 mg. “Although there are no recommended or ‘safe’ levels that have been experimentally established for caffeine, most researchers and clinicians consider 100-200 mg of caffeine/day to be moderate intake for an adult,” the report states. “Pediatricians recommend that children and adolescents abstain from all stimulant-containing energy drinks.”

Nearly two-thirds of all ED visits (64%) were made by males. In addition, 20% of energy drink–related emergency department visits by males included the use of alcohol, compared with 10% of females. However, a higher proportion of visits by females involved the combined use of energy drinks and pharmaceuticals (35% vs. 23% among males, respectively).

— Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)

Image courtesy rynosoft’s photostream

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Filed under Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Hospital and Critical Care Medicine, IMNG, Practice Trends, Primary care, Uncategorized

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