Red Bull, Monster, 5 Hour Energy Drinks Pose Rising Public Health Problem

Emergency rooms are seeing more and more visits by people who suffered health problems after drinking Red Bull, Monster, 5 Hour Energy, Rockstar and other popular energy drinks. 

The number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks doubled between 2007 and 2011, according to a new report by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), released on January 10.

While most of the visits involved adults between the ages of 18 and 39, a growing number of older people are visiting emergency departments complaining of energy drink problems as well.

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According to the report, there were 10,068 energy drink-related emergency department visits in 2007. By 2011, that number had increased to 20,783.

There were more male patients than female patients, and most of the visits involved patients between the ages of 18 to 39. However, energy drink visits by older patients has increased dramatically, shooting up 279 percent from 1,382 in 2007, to 5,233 emergency room visits in 2011.

Problems Linked to Excessive Caffeine Intake

The report notes that the health risks are primarily from the concentrated amount of caffeine and health problems rising from excessive caffeine intake. Less than half of the emergency department visits recorded also involved drugs or other substances in addition to the energy drink use.

“A growing body of scientific evidence documents harmful health effects of energy drinks, particularly for children, adolescents, and young adults,” the report states. “Research has established that, among college students, there are associations between energy drink consumption and problematic behaviors such as marijuana use, sexual risk taking, fighting, smoking, drinking, and prescription drug misuse.”

A recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that energy drinks can have four times the amount of caffeine as is found in a can of Coca-Cola on an ounce-per-ounce basis. The report warned that potential energy drink health risks include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heart beat and palpitations
  • Sleep disturbances and insomnia
  • Diuresis
  • Hyperglycemia

The DAWN study noted that energy drinks initially targeted children and young adults, who were consuming 30 to 50 percent of all energy drink products. But older adults have been a growing consumer of energy drinks, and tend to gravitate toward energy shots like 5-Hour Energy.

Deaths Led to Closer Look At Energy Drinks

Increased scrutiny was turned toward the energy drink industry after the death of a 14-year-old girl, who died after drinking two cans of Monster in a 24-hour period. Her parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp., alleging 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 in recent weeks by the FDA, there have been at least four deaths linked to Monster Energy Drinks and 13 deaths linked to 5 Hour Energy Shots.  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.

2 Comments

  • BryantJanuary 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    For two years I drank 5-hour energy drinks after a vigorous workout. In June 2012 I became very sick. I had muscle spasms in my lower extremities., I was confined to a wheel chair because I could not longer walk due to muscle spasms and sever pain in my lower extremities. My condition worsened, and I was admitted in the hospital for 45 days. My central nervous system was under attack by my auto[Show More]For two years I drank 5-hour energy drinks after a vigorous workout. In June 2012 I became very sick. I had muscle spasms in my lower extremities., I was confined to a wheel chair because I could not longer walk due to muscle spasms and sever pain in my lower extremities. My condition worsened, and I was admitted in the hospital for 45 days. My central nervous system was under attack by my auto-immune system. My body was slowly shutting down. During my stay in the hospital I have had many MRI's and other test analysis. One doctor's diagnoses said it was due to the 5-hour energy drinks I had consumed for two years.

  • ChristinaJanuary 18, 2013 at 2:24 am

    I have found out myself that I am having heart issues from Red Bull.

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