Indicates ER Visits Doubled In Last 4 Years From 10,000 To Over 20,000

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Energy drinks are the fastest growing segment of the carbonated soft drink market.

Trouble is, most people don’t realize that they can be hazardous to their health and the Food and Drug Administration is already investigating the safety of energy drinks after a number of deaths were linked to them, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

The beverages are super popular, especially with young adults.

College junior Allen Abrishame, 20, works late nights at a restaurant, so he uses them to stay awake.

“During the middle of the shift, I’ll get tired and knock one down,” Abrishame said.

But the drinks are landing more and more people in the emergency room.

“The first question I ask when I see a young person with a rapid heart beat and anxiety is ‘Have you taken any energy drinks?'” said Dr. Stephen Meldon, the Vice Chair of the Emergency Services Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said ER visits doubled in the last four years from about 10,000 to more than 20,000.

Doctors said those high doses of caffeine and other additives can cause a number of reactions.

“It’s really going to be symptoms of taking a stimulant…so you’re going to have nervousness, rapid heart rate, anxiety,” Meldon said.

In recent years sales have soared for the top three energy drink companies. — Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar and marketers main target is young people.

The government report found those same young people, ages 18-25, were the most common age group to need emergency treatment.

“I get really jittery, I get really, really hyper. It makes me want to pace and I just don’t feel good, and once the energy drink wears off, I have a really bad headache,” said 19-year-old freshman nursing student Victoria Benson.

The American Beverage Association criticized the report, saying many of those who end up in the ER were also consuming alcohol or drugs.

About half of the ER visits were for people who combined energy drinks with alcohol or stimulant drugs like Adderall or Ritali.

CBS 2’s Gomez reported that three energy drinks is the equivalent of 15 cups of coffee and said people using them should limit themselves to one every few hours.

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