A troubling new report on energy drinks Show Notes

Thursday, January 24, 2013 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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A troubling new report has come out on energy drinks. 

A new government survey suggests the number of people seeking emergency treatment after consuming energy drinks has doubled nationwide during the past four years.  Interestingly, during that the same period, the supercharged drink industry has surged in popularity in convenience stores, bars and on college campuses.

According to a story from ABC News, from 2007 to 2011, the government estimates the number of emergency room visits involving the beverages shot up from about 10,000 to more than 20,000. Most of those cases involved teens or young adults.

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 increase in the number of patients who consumed energy drinks and experienced irregular heartbeats, anxiety and even heart attacks.

More than half of the patients who wound up in the emergency room told doctors they had downed only energy drinks.  About 42 percent of the cases involved energy drinks in combination with alcohol or drugs, such as the stimulants Adderall or Ritalin.

Howard Mell, an emergency physician in Cleveland, says “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

“If he had a weak heart or suffered from coronary disease and didn't know it, this could have precipitated very bad things."

By the way, the energy drink industry says its drinks are safe and there is no proof linking its products to the adverse reactions.

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.

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