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Increase in ER Visits After Consumption of Energy Drinks

A new survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that the number of people going to the emergency room for treatment after consuming energy drinks has doubled nationwide during the past four years.

According to an article on NBCNews.com, from 2007 to 2011 emergency room visits involving energy drinks has gone from approximately 10,000 to more than 20,000. This is the same period of time when the drinks have received a surge in popularity in stores, bars, and on college campuses. Most cases involve teens or young adults.

Although the report does not say what symptoms brought people to the ER, it does mention that the drinks can cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat, and seizures. The article says several emergency physicians have seen patients with irregular heartbeats, anxiety, and heart attacks after taking the energy drinks.

One doctor in the article is quoted as saying, “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. 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.”

Last fall, there were reports of 18 deaths that are possibly tied to energy drinks, including a 14-year-old girl from Maryland. The Food and Drug Administration has an ongoing investigation into potential safety issues involving the use of energy drink products.