Energy drink companies claim to help you feel like a rock star, ‘unleash the beast’ and ‘give you wings.’ What they don’t mention is that their highly-caffeinated beverages could also land you in the emergency room.
Luckily, a recent report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration does that for them.
‘The number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks doubled from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011,’ the report says.
While the report is certainly scary, it’s not surprising’especially given the number of deaths that have been linked to popular energy drinks.
The highly caffeinated 5-Hour Energy has been linked to 13 deaths in the U.S. in the last four years. Red Bull has been linked to the deaths of three Canadian teens. Monster Energy Drink was also linked to the death of one of those teens, as well as five deaths in the U.S.
Many of the deaths were heart-related, including that of 15-year-old Brian Shepherd, who the Toronto Star reports died of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.
Since these deaths, and after 61 adverse drug reactions related to energy drinks were reported in Canada, Health Canada has set a limit on the amount of caffeine permitted in energy drinks. The limit will be fully established by the end of 2013.
But is this enough?
According to the report, all the negative side effects of energy drinks aren’t stopping consumers from drinking them.
‘The popularity of these drinks persists although large amounts of caffeine can cause adverse effects such as insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat, and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care.’
So why do people still drink them? Is it the marketing? Maybe these companies shouldn’t be allowed to market their products as "energy" drinks. I don’t know about you, but when I have lots of energy, it usually doesn’t involve delirium, vomiting, involuntary tremors and convulsions.
What do you think? How often do you consume energy drinks? Have all the negative reports made you weary of drinking them? Do you think limiting caffeine is the best way to prevent more deaths and adverse reactions?
-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor