Are Energy Drinks Really Bad for You?
A late morning or an early afternoon slump may have you reaching for an energy drink to boost your energy and power up for the rest of the day. Packaged in attractive and portable cans, these drinks seem like little more than a soda designed to give you wings. But regular consumption can actually result in a quick trip to the emergency room or a fast track to a chronic health condition like hypertension.1
Marketed to youth, energy drinks are consumed mostly by children, teen and young adults. “While the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that children and adolescents should not consume energy drinks, there still are many who do,” said Medco ER’s Medical Director, Dr. Nasir Khan. “They seem mostly unaware of the risk they are taking in spiking their hormone levels, overdosing on caffeine, and gambling with exacerbating a latent condition they may not even know they have, such as a heart arrhythmia.”
What’s in an energy drink?
The main source of energy in an energy drink comes from caffeine. While caffeine content varies, energy drinks generally have three to six times the amount of caffeine as coffee does. Also, considering how quickly a can could be consumed, that could be comparable to drinking six cups of coffee in 30 minutes.
There are five basic components most energy drinks share.
- Caffeine – a legally addictive substance. Too much caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure and causes insomnia and anxiety.2
- Taurine – an amino acid that possibly stimulates brain activity and increases physical performance.2 A ban on taurine has made many energy drinks illegal in other countries.
- Sugar – most people don’t realize that energy drinks contain as much or more sugar than regular sodas. That’s a whopping amount of sugar to consume regularly and can result in unhealthy weight gain.
- Guarana – from a tropical plant from South America, these seeds contain a high caffeine content.3
- Glucuronolactone – claimed to be a caffeine-like stimulant, there is no scientific evidence to support its use.3
What does your energy drink do to your body?
Caffeine triggers a supercharging of receptors which then release norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin in the brain.1 Additionally, there is an increased risk of caffeine intoxication which causes a myriad of bad side effects and potentially lasting damage.
“Energy drinks can easily lead to caffeine overdoses which can lead to seizures, heart problems and death,” said Dr. Khan. “When combined with alcohol, the effects can be masked which can cause a person to not realize how much damage they are doing to their body.”
What are common symptoms of an energy drink-related emergency?
- Heart complications – irregular heartbeat, racing heart, heart failure
How can I get an energy boost without the risk of energy drinks?
Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help you get the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your energy at an even keel. Protein can give you long-lasting energy burns. Low-to-no caffeine teas or coffee can also be substituted for energy drinks. Sports drinks have a lot of additives but can be researched and considered as an alternative to energy drinks.
Getting plenty of water will help your body operate at its peak. Milk and 100% fruit juice should be offered in place of manufactured drinks.4 Sales of these drinks should take the place of energy drinks in schools and colleges.5
Get Help Fast at Medco ER
If you are experiencing any adverse symptoms from energy drink consumption or alcohol mixed with energy drinks, come in right away to the nearest Medco ER. We are open 24/7 every day of the year and our board-certified physicians are experienced in diagnosing and treating these conditions.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive, Plano, TX 75023 (on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road)
Call us @ 469-747-0370
- Carrollton: 2745 E Belt Line Road, Carrollton, TX 75006
Call us @ 469-840-4600