A new survey has revealed that ER visits due to energy drinks have doubled over the last four years. The survey, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, suggests that between 2007 and 2011 ER visits due to energy drinks increased from just under 10,000 to over 20,000.
The popularity of the drinks, promising increased energy and productivity, has increased significantly in the last five years. The drinks are specifically popular among young adults between the ages 18 and 25.
As reported by the New York Times, energy drinks are causing a rising health problem:
“Consumption of energy drinks is a rising public health problem because medical and behavioral problems can result from excessive caffeine intake. A growing body of scientific evidence documents harmful health effects of energy drinks, particularly for children, adolescents and young adults.”
Doctors report that excess consumption or abuse of energy drinks can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat and increased anxiety. The drinks could prove fatal for those with coronary disease or a weak heart, as reported by USA Today.
Most of the problems associated with energy drinks seem to be connected with excess consumption or using them in combination with drugs or alcohol. According to the government study, 42 percent of the cases reported involved combining energy drinks with alcohol or stimulant drugs.
On average, one can of energy drink contains the same amount of caffeine as five cups of coffee. Most patients that experience health issues tied to the drinks have consumed two or more of the drinks.
The American Beverage Association criticizes the study as inaccurate and misleading:
“This report does not share information about the overall health of those who may have consumed energy drinks, or what symptoms brought them to the ER in the first place. There is no basis by which to understand the overall caffeine intake of any of these individuals — from all sources.”
Energy drinks are an ongoing concern to the FDA, which is already conducting research into “potential safety issues.” The government study, indicating that ER visits caused by energy drinks have doubled, will factor into their research.