You’ve no doubt seen them lining the shelves of convenience and grocery stores – energy drinks.
Their brightly colored labels promise everything from increased stamina to boundless energy. But there may be something else they cause.
“The typical side effects, people can get anxious, they can have heart palpitations,” said Dr. Joseph Schmidt, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Medical Center. “They can have problems sleeping which is one of the reason people do take it but if you take it and try to sleep you can’t sleep.”
A newly released government study suggests that as the consumption of energy drinks has increased, so too have visits to the emergency room. In fact, within the last 6 years trips to the ER nationwide due to energy drinks have nearly doubled.
“We do see a fair number of folks with the symptom complex,” confirmed Dr. Schmidt. He says it’s not all about the brand of drink people use, it’s how much.
According to Dr. Schmidt, the culprit is something many of us ingest every day in our soda and coffee – caffeine… about 5 to 10 milligrams an ounce.
But in energy drinks its more. Much more.
“Some of the small energy drinks, the 1 or 2 ounce energy drinks can be much higher as much as 100 milligrams or more.”
And if you drink several serving sizes, that’s when the trouble can start, especially for children or those who have preexisting conditions.
“People who are susceptible also have an increased rate of actual abnormal heart rhythms. One is where your heart goes way to fast or even people who are prone to atrial defibrillation which is another of those abnormal rhythms of the heart. Too much caffeine can certainly play into that.”
ER cases tied to energy drinks represents just a small number of the more than 136-million emergency room visits annually here in the US. Still, the food and drug administration says it will review their safety later this year.