Emergency admissions from energy drink use soar in US

Emergency admissions involving energy drinks rose 10-fold in the US in just five years, according to a report by the country's substance abuse watchdog.

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can have a dangerous outcome (Photograph: iStock)
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can have a dangerous outcome (Photograph: iStock)

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol or other drugs was involved in almost half of all such admissions, according to an analysis by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Admissions rose from 1,128 in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009, with over a third of all cases due to abuse or misuse.

The report, published last month, found 27% of visits involved mixing energy drinks with pharmaceuticals, while 16% involved mixing with alcohol and 10% with illegal drugs.

The trend was led by young adults, with 18 to 25-year-olds making up 45% of all emergency visits.

Researchers said it was notable that, among visits involving energy drinks alone, 92% of cases were classed as adverse reactions.

Authors said this suggests ‘that energy drink consumption by itself can result in negative health events serious enough to require emergency care’.

Researchers said excessive caffeine intake from energy drinks can cause arrhythmias, hypertension, and dehydration, as well as sleeplessness and nervousness.

Authors of the report said adults taking pharmaceutical drugs may benefit from targeted education on the ‘dangers’ of energy drinks in combination with other substances.

In November last year, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health found energy drink consumption among teenagers and students was strongly linked to heavy drinking and alcohol dependence.

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