ERs report sharp rise in patients who used energy drinks
SAN FRANCISCO — A new government survey suggests the number of people seeking emergency treatment from consuming energy drinks has doubled nationwide during the past four years, the same period in which the supercharged drink industry surged in popularity in convenience stores, bars and on college campuses.
From 2007 to 2011, the government estimates the number of emergency room visits involving the neon-labeled beverages shot up from about 10,000 to more than 20,000. Most of those cases involved teens or young adults, according to a survey of the nation's hospitals released late last week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The report doesn't specify which symptoms brought people to the emergency room but calls energy drink consumption a “rising public health problem” that can cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care.
Several emergency physicians said they had seen a clear uptick in the number of patients suffering from irregular heartbeats, anxiety and heart attacks who said they had recently downed an energy drink.
More than half of the patients considered in the survey who wound up in the emergency room told doctors they had downed only energy drinks. In 2011, about 42 percent of the cases involved energy drinks in combination with alcohol or drugs, such as the stimulants Adderall or Ritalin.
“A lot of people don't realize the strength of these things. I had someone come in recently who had drunk three energy drinks in an hour, which is the equivalent of 15 cups of coffee,” said Howard Mell, an emergency physician in the suburbs of Cleveland, who serves as a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Essentially he gave himself a stress test, and thankfully he passed. But if he had a weak heart or suffered from coronary disease and didn't know it, this could have precipitated very bad things.”
The findings emerge as concerns over energy drinks have intensified with reports last fall of 18 deaths possibly tied to the drinks — including a 14-year-old Maryland girl who died after drinking two large cans of Monster Energy drinks. Monster does not believe its products were responsible for the death.
Two senators are calling for the Food and Drug Administration to investigate safety concerns about energy drinks and their ingredients.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nurse defies Maine quarantine in standoff over Ebola
- Few knew of cyber attack on White House computer network
- Unaccompanied immigrants put heavy strain on schools, charities
- Museum saves part of bomber plant
- Botched probe of suspected arms dealer echoed Fast and Furious, watchdog finds
- Terminally ill woman may delay planned Nov. 1 suicide
- Ferguson grand jury cleared in leaks about police shooting of black teenager
- Plane slams into pilot training center at Kansas airport, killing 4
- Inmate freed in landmark case
- Hawaii’s National Guard sent to lava flow site
- Gray wolf sighting reported at Grand Canyon