Feature

Health scare of the week: Energy drinks and the ER

The number of people admitted to emergency rooms after drinking energy drinks has skyrocketed in recent years.

The number of people admitted to emergency rooms after drinking energy drinks has skyrocketed in recent years. A new federal report shows that in 2011, more than 20,000 people were admitted to the ER with anxiety, rapid heartbeat, seizures, or heart attacks seemingly caused by downing the drinks—more than twice the number from four years earlier. The Federal Drug Administration is also investigating 18 deaths possibly tied to the highly caffeinated beverages. Most patients who seek help after consuming the drinks—which include Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar—are children and teens. More than half have negative reactions to the drinks alone, but others combine them with alcohol or prescription drugs, like the stimulants Adderall and Ritalin, making the drinks even more dangerous. “A lot of people don’t realize the strength of these things,” says Howard Mell, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. The beverages are flavored and marketed like soft drinks, without warning labels. The new report calls energy-drink consumption a “rising public health problem.”

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