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ADVERTISING: Advertorial — ENERGY DRINKS: Are they worth the risk

by DR. WAYNE M. FICHTER JR./Natural Spine Solutions
| May 12, 2021 1:00 AM

The same pick-me-up that powers you through a boring afternoon meeting or late-night deadline could be silently setting your body up for some serious health problems. A 2013 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration outlines a drastic climb in energy-drink-related emergency room visits. With cans lining gas station and grocery store coolers across the nation, these beverages have become a billion-dollar industry in the United States. Energy drinks are very popular; globally the energy drink market was worth $39 billion in 2013 and is forecast to reach $61 billion by 2021. But research is citing major health implications due to the consumption of these pick me up drinks.

It all depends on how many drinks you have. If you add up the total caffeine and it’s equal or above 200 milligrams, this could cause a condition known as caffeine intoxication, according to a study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences in 2015. Symptoms of intoxication could include anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal irritation, muscle twitching, restlessness and periods of inexhaustibility.

Special concerns with energy drinks:

Negative health outcomes. New evidence has linked energy drink consumption with negative health effects in youth: risk-seeking behaviors, poor mental health, adverse cardiovascular effects, high blood pressure and metabolic, renal or dental problems.

Excessive caffeine. Too much caffeine from any source, particularly when several are taken in one day, can lead to anxiety, insomnia, heart problems like irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, and in rare cases, seizures or cardiac arrest. Some energy drinks may contain as much as 500 mg per can (the amount in 14 cans of cola).

Dangers with alcohol. A new danger has emerged. People are combining energy drinks with alcohol, a trend largely seen in underage drinkers. Studies suggest that drinking this type of cocktail leads to a greater alcohol intake than if just drinking alcohol alone. This may possibly be due to the fact that energy drinks increase alertness that masks the signs of inebriation, leading one to believe they can consume even more alcohol.

Lack of regulation. The funny thing is, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate energy drinks but enforces a caffeine limit of 71 mg per 12 ounces of soda; energy drinks typically contain about 120 mg per 12 ounces.

Headaches. Headaches are one of the most common side effects that energy drink consumers complain of, according to the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Researchers peg the high caffeine and excess sugar, not the herbal blends, as the cause of the head pain attributed to consumption of the beverages. A Nutritional Journal analysis found more than 20 percent of users report headaches, with about 30 percent also suffering from jolt-and-crash episodes as a side effect. Another 20 percent experienced heart palpitations.

Hospital visits. Death is the worst side effect linked to energy drinks and shots, but there's a laundry list of other health problems that could send an energy drink enthusiast to the hospital, too. The FDA released data in 2012 showing that 5-Hour Energy was associated with 13 fatalities and Monster Energy was involved in five deaths since 2009. The number of ER visits involving the drinks doubled from 10,000 in 2007 to more than 20,000 in 2011 according to the new report. Those most likely affected? People in the 18- to 39-year-old age range. Older folks are reaching for canned and bottled energy drinks and shots, too, much to the detriment of their health. ER visits for the 40-plus age group jumped 279 percent between 2007 and 2011.

Energy drinks can pose a serious health risk in vulnerable groups, including children, teenagers, pregnant women and those with medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Anyone who consumes energy drinks should carefully read the label for caffeine content and avoid high consumption (over 200 mg of caffeine per drink). Consumption in combination with alcohol should always be avoided. Parents need to read the ingredients of whatever drink their child is consuming and be aware of the health risks, and if used, are monitored carefully.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.