Energy Drinks and Side Effects
As energy drinks have a lot of chemical ingredients in them and are full of an entire range of harmful substances, it can lead to real problems and more side effects than even caffeinated beverages. With young children and teenagers getting addicted to energy drinks, the safety of energy drinks is an issue that will influence the health of generations to come as well. According to the Australia Poisons Center, energy drinks lead to the following symptoms, listed from the least common:
- Parenthesis (numbing/tingling of the skin)
- Dizziness/vasovagal syncope
- Ischemia/chest pain
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Restlessness and agitation
- Shaking and tremors
- Tachycardia/heart palpitations
Over the past decade, the CAERS/ Canter for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System has gotten one hundred and forty complaints about side effects from the following energy drink brands:
Some cases even underwent hospitalization and death. While energy drinks contain supplements. vitamins and herbs and are needed to list warnings on the label about serving more than the amount recommended. People have no short term side effects from energy drinks. But over the long term, different side effects have been observed.
Problems From Specific Ingredient
The most common ingredients of energy drinks are associated with a lot of potential side effects. Let’s see where the most impact is felt.
This is easily the most popular ingredient of energy drinks. It is also among the most widely consumed substances when it comes to beverages. Caffeine tolerance is different for people, but for most individuals, the dose of 400 milligrams per day may produce symptoms initially such as insomnia, restlessness, and a elevated heartbeat.
Even higher doses can lead to:
- Panic attacks
- Heart palpitations
- Increased blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal disturbance
- Increased urinary problems
- Allergic reactions such as hives, itching, rashes and difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, swelling of the face, diarrhea, shakiness, puking and difficulty sleeping
- Tough to handle withdrawal symptoms
- Headaches and severe fatigue from withdrawal
Caffeine can be found in numerous natural beverages such as guarantee, green tea extract, so be aware of this while reading energy drink labels.
Another sign of a problem of caffeine in energy drinks is adrenal fatigue. When the body’s adrenalin system becomes charged by continuous caffeine, the aim should be to detox and get the glands back in normal functioning. The trouble is that what is safe dosage varies depending on the person. Close to 500-1000 milligrams in a single day can produce the most side effects.
This is another deadly ingredient in energy drinks. High-fructose corn-syrup or cane sugar are some of its other names of this ingredient. It may even be touted as healthy (for example natural cane juice).
Higher sugar drinks are associated with obesity. Sugar also causes dental decay and increases the risk of diabetes. Sugar in energy drinks leads to increase in blood glucose and insulin spikes, which can cause bodily symptoms to crash. Sugar also produces a rush because it is highly addictive in nature.
This is another potent ingredient but the safety of its consumption has also been debated. The amount in energy drinks is also a question, as it should be well below what is needed for side effects to become rampant.
Close to 35 milligrams of B3 (Niacin) can cause the skin to become flushed. But higher amounts of 3 thousand milligrams or more can initiate liver toxicity. A British Journal of Medicine study found that excess niacin in energy drinks has led to nonviral hepatitis. Another vitamin, B6 in excess levels can cause problems in sensory nerves such as burning sensation or skin lesion.
This has caused side effects like gastrointestinal upset, tiredness, heat, and dizziness. It has also been linked to diarrhea.
This rejuvenating herb has been linked, when consumed, to possible side effects like:
- Low BP
- Cerebral arteritis
- Vaginal bleeding
- Appetite reduction
The debate has been ongoing if this ingredient found in soft drinks is causing side effects. Some countries like France and Germany have concluded it is not a threat to safety.
If sugarless energy drinks are being consumed. The debate around negative health impact of these on the basis of artificial sweeteners like aspartame5 has been rampant.
This is a herb which causes side effects such as dizziness, restlessness, heart palpitations, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. It can also create further side effects in conjunction with blood thinners and antidepressant medication. This substance has also been found to cause thyroid cancer in animal studies.
This amino acid is associated with not only energy drinks, but green tea as well. Energy drink manufacturers put green tea extract in the drink which produces a feeling of alertness and lightheadedness.
This is another amino acid which is associated with side effects and is present in energy drinks. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, insomnia and sleeping problems as well as a stuffy nose.
Preexisting Medical Conditions
If a person has pre-existing medical conditions such as heart problems, it is better to avoid energy drinks. Other medical conditions can also get aggravated by energy drinks. The sheer volume of energy drinks in the markets and the easy access for youngsters make this a very dangerous problem. Heavily sweetened and made easy to drink, these energy stimulating beverages can even have lethal side effects,
Dangers of Energy Drinks
Energy drinks can have serious problems associated with them. These include the following:
Those with underlying cardiovascular problems have gone into cardiac arrest following a few energy drinks. Before you consume caffeine in any form, including energy drinks, be sure to be clear about the health of your heart. Energy drinks can lead to forceful heart palpitations and harm those with health conditions. Studies have found that energy drinks have led to symptoms among youngsters.
Another study points to the association between cardiac issues among teens and energy drinks. Teenagers consuming more than 250 milliners per day, especially before or during exercises or sports are prone to problems. A research study fond that 18 to 40-year-old adults who consumed energy drinks on a regular basis had a massive increase in QTc interval, which marks abnormal heart rhythm risk.
Caffeine in the energy drinks causes calcium release from heart cells, affecting heartbeat and leading to arrhythmia. This can also harm the presence of salts in the body, adversely impacting heart health.
Headaches and Migraines
Excessive energy drinks can lead to massive headaches linked to the withdrawal of caffeine. Varying the amount of caffeine drunk can lead to constant headaches.
Anxiety also rises with consumption of caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks. Studies have found that people with certain genetic variances in their adenosine receptors feel increased anxiety while consuming energy drinks. Larger doses can even initiate a massive panic attack.
Coffee certainly does the perfect job of keeping people awake and so do energy drinks. But, when they are consumed in excess, these caffeine rich beverages can cause people to undergo sleep deprivation and be unable to perform crucial tasks.
A drug interaction can also occur if energy drinks are mixed with prescription medication, especially that of depression.
Caffeine boost in energy drinks can cause addiction. This can impact functioning negatively when the energy drink is no longer consumed.
Poor Impulse Control
Being high on caffeine shows teenagers are more likely to take dangerous risks leading to injury or legal trouble.
Too much caffeine can also lead to shaking and panic. Causing emotional issues, this side effect can interfere with the normal functioning of the body.
Energy drinks can cause vomiting and the resulting dehydration and burning by the acid of the teeth and inner esophagus are further complications.
From hives to airway obstruction, rashes, and minor itching, the side effects of energy drinks can trigger histamine reactions.
Caffeinated products like energy drinks elevate the blood pressure of people with hypertension. Those with normal blood pressure need not worry, but persons with blood pressure problems or hypertension can up the risk of stroke and other problems if energy drinks are excessively consumed. A Mayo Clinic study found Rockstar energy drink raises blood pressure as against placebos to an abnormally high rate.
This can create problems such as gout, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, flushing of the skin and vomiting.
Release of Stress Hormone
Research has also found the energy drinks can lead to increased secretion of norepinephrine and raise rates of stress hormone.
The World Health Organization has even released a warning letter about the impact of energy drinks on young persons, after finding out over 65% of teens consume these. They have also issued an alert for governments to establish upper caffeine limits on these drinks. Labeling requirements and sales restrictions to minors is another issue.
WHO has also instructed the energy drinks industry to responsibly market their beverages. Health care workers need to be trained to recognize what symptoms of OD can result and educate people about the dangers of excessive energy drinks. Moderation is important. A November 2015 report found that the US FDA documented 13 deaths associated with an energy drink 5-Hour Energy. This drink has 2 cups of coffee worth of caffeine in each unit.
US FDA researchers have also traced miscarriage to consumption of 5-Hour Energy. Studies have found that those who consumed caffeinated beverages were more likely to suffer a miscarriage.
Drug Abuse and Alcohol Interactions
Energy drinks can have potent side effects in conjunction with alcohol and drugs. Caffeine is a stimulant and it does not prevent sedation by alcohol, In fact, results have found that more energy drinks may be consumed after alcohol leading to serious side effects, according to an AMA Journal study. The JAMA study has also found that drinking caffeine to recover from hangovers can also be lethal. Another study found that energy beverages were linked to drug abuse, with more students on energy drink snagging in prescription drug abuse.
Studies have shown that energy beverages can impair cognition. Drinking higher amounts of caffeine such as 250 milliliters or more (found in an average sized Red Bull can ) or 80 mg has triggered cognition problems as evidenced by the reaction test.
All in all, too much of anything is bad. But energy drinks are associated with so many controversial ingredients, that even moderate consumption on a regular basis can have deadly consequences. Next time you opt for caffeine-rich energy stimulating drinks, think again. You could be doing more harm than good!