July 27, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

Caffeine Poisoning from Energy Drinks

Caffeinated Energy Drinks are involved in tens of thousands of emergency room visits for overdoses each year. Caffeine addiction is an issue to consider.

Energy drinks have great names; they’re cocky and dynamic. “RockStar“, “Monster“, Four Loko“, “Joose“, “Twisted“, “Red Bull“, “Juiced“. The ingredients are a combo of caffeine, sugar and supplements. The tastes vary: punch, pop and juice – SWEET.¬† And the feel? TINGLY all over and then relaxed or hyped-up.

Is caffeine bad for you? There’s quite a battle going on right now for mind share. Caffeine is bad, or caffeine is good. We don’t know who to trust.

Scientific researchers get paid to perform as eye witnesses in caffeine-related legal cases, and get promotion and tenure when their publications  get cited (the equivalent to being popular). Are they researching for the public good, or for their own good?

Industry trade groups lobby and support “pro choice” consumer groups to defend the consumers “right to choose”, free of government intervention. Are they truly “grass roots” consumer organizations, or are they puppets of the beverage industry?

Many states have already banned energy drinks that include both alcohol and caffeine or other stimulants, but non-alcoholic energy drinks are still causing health problems, and consumers are drinking them up:

U.S. sales of non-alcoholic energy drinks are expected to hit $9 billion this year, with children and young adults accounting for half the market.
- Reuters Health

In fact, Americans are drinking enough high-caffeine “energy” drinks to fill the emergency rooms with overdose cases.

There were 1,128 ER visits in 2005 for caffeine overdose, 16,000 in 2008 and 13,114 in 2009. The mixing of alcohol or drugs with an energy drink was usually the case. However, 44% of the caffeine overdose ER visits were from energy drinks ALONE.

Beverage manufacturers claim that of 123 million ER visits, only one one-hundredth of one percent were related to energy drink overdose. That’s merely 12,300 ER visits.

It’s a mistake to assume the amount of caffeine in an energy drink in equal to a cup of coffee. Beverage manufacturers don’t have to report total caffeine in the drinks. In addition, some drinks are nutritionally ‘enhanced’ with guarana (a stimulant), taurine (bile), ginseng (commonly used for male sexual dysfunction) and/or ginkgo (for improved blood flow).

Energy drinks are classified as nutritional supplements and have fewer restrictions than foods or drugs. The confusion around purpose and ingredients appears to contribute to caffeine overdose.

More than half of all ER visits linked to energy drinks were in college-age adults ages 18 to 25. Adults ages 26 to 39 accounted for almost a third of the visits. Teens 12 to 17 and adults over 40 each accounted for 11% of visits. Men accounted for nearly two-thirds of all visits.

Caffeine intoxication symptoms are similar to other stimulant overdose. They can include irregular or rapid heart beat, delusions and loss of fine motor control. Extreme overdose is rare because the body will be induced to vomit, but death can occur.

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High-caffeine energy drinks implicated in over 16,000 ER visits in one year!
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