Poison control centers throughout the United States have fielded thousands of calls over the past year from individuals expressing concerns about health problems from energy drinks.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reports that its members took at least 3,147 calls throughout 2012 regarding exposure to energy drinks, with 1,869 of those involving children.
In recent years energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and 5 Hour Energy have become popular, particularly among teens and young adults, combining high levels of caffeine and other stimulants. However, an increasing number of reports are now surfacing of users suffering a caffeine overdose after drinking the beverages, which may result in a heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia, death or other severe injury.
It is not clear how many of the calls identified in the report actually involved cases of energy drink poisoning, but the AAPCC noted that child health experts have warned that no adolescents or children should be drinking the high amounts of caffeine and sugar found in most energy drinks.
“While caffeine in moderate doses is generally considered safe for adults, if adolescents do consume caffeine, they should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, about the amount in a cup of coffee, according to the journal Pediatrics,” according to an AAPCC statement. ” Unfortunately, because of the way energy drinks are labeled, it is very difficult to know how much caffeine is in the drink.”
Calls About Energy Drink Problems Skyrocketed in 2011
The number of calls the AAPCC received regarding energy drinks more than tripled from 2010 to 2011, with 2012 calls about the same as the year before.
The AAPCC warned that the side effects of drinking too many energy drinks or consuming one too fast can include nausea, vomiting, nervousness, tremors, insomnia, restlessness, delirium, sweating, headache, seizures, increased heart rate, kidney problems, altered heart rhythm, mood changes, withdrawal, diarrhea, chest pains, increased blood pressure, and dehydration.
In recent months, the energy drink industry has faced increased scrutiny over safety issues and the health risks associated with energy drink products, with media attention turning toward the issue after an energy drink poisoning lawsuit was filed by the family of a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking two cans of Monster in a 24-hour period. Her parents alleged that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the health risks and negligently promoted high consumption of the drinks among children.
According to information released by the FDA since the lawsuit was filed, there have been at least 13 deaths linked to 5 Hour Energy Shots and four deaths linked to Monster Energy Drinks in recent years. In addition, side effects of Rockstar Energy Drinks have been cited in at least 13 non-fatal adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in recent years.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that children should not consumer any energy drinks, as the risk of caffein overdose may be especially harmful for children, who should not consumer more than 100 mg of caffeine in a day. Most energy drinks currently on the market contain more than that amount and some have nearly three times as much.