Energy Drink Consumption May Lead to Caffeine, Liver Injuries

A 50-year-old man has allegedly suffered from a plethora of mysterious symptoms after ingesting four to five energy drinks a day over several weeks. He had been suffering from abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, and assumed these were symptoms of the flu. When his urine turned dark and his skin took on a yellow hue, the man sought help in a hospital emergency room.

Doctors from the University of Florida, College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida inquired about his intake of food, drink, and recreational drugs, as well as his vitamin and supplement routines. The man claimed he did not drink alcohol, smoke or partake in drugs, but had been consuming about five energy drinks per day. This alerted the doctors treating him as they were aware of another previously reported case revealing liver damage due to over-indulgence in energy drinks, CBS News reports.

Parker Waichman LLP has long been dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers who have been injured as a result of consumer products, such as energy drinks. In fact, the law firm has protected victims of energy drink injuries and has broad experience with alleged injuries associated with these products.

Physicians’ Diagnosis of Liver Damage Associated with Energy Drinks

Doctors conducted blood tests which revealed elevated liver enzymes signaling liver damage. After performing a liver biopsy, it was confirmed the man had acute hepatitis. The former reported case connected to energy drink consumption’s link to hepatitis also gave support to the Florida doctors’ diagnosis.

Energy drinks attract consumers for their energy-enhancing effects, but normally contain a mixture of B vitamins and an “energy blend” that includes caffeine. Doctors believe the high levels of vitamin B3, also known as niacin, in the energy beverage the man consumed, are what caused the hepatitis.

Each bottle the man consumed contained 40 milligrams of niacin. This is double the recommended daily amount of niacin for human beings. The authors in the study remarked that the man was probably consuming anywhere from 160 to 200 milligrams of niacin per day for a minimum of three weeks. This put him at “high risk for harmful accumulation and toxicity.” In the other documented case associating energy drinks with hepatitis, the patient consumed approximately 300 milligrams of niacin a day.

Authors of the study suggest the liver damage risk may be a more common problem than doctors realize. Many patients likely do not consider their use of energy drinks or supplements as a relevant health risk and often do not discuss this practice with their physicians.

Dr. Bernstein, chief of hepatology at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, who was not involved with this study, advised that all patients with underlying chronic liver disease talk with their health care provider before consuming energy drinks.

Energy Drinks Allegedly Lead to Other Serious Health Issues

Energy beverages and high doses of caffeine have been associated with numerous health issues that include health problems and high blood pressure, or hypertension. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has cautioned that energy drinks should not be a part of children’s diets. The Academy cites energy drinks as a connection between neurological and heart problems, including seizures, in children.

Study authors warned those individuals who take energy supplements in any form—drinks, pills, or powders—that too many of these energy products, including energy drinks, may lead to serious adverse effects.

“As the energy drink market continues to rapidly expand, consumers should be aware of the potential risks of various ingredients. Vitamins and nutrients, such as niacin are present in quantities that greatly exceed the recommended daily intake, lending to their high risk for harmful accumulation and toxicity,” the authors warned.

In 2015, research published in the journal Alcohol and Drug Dependence, investigated the issue of energy drinks and caffeine intoxication and discovered that energy drinks may lead to this serious side effect, which may also lead to death in some cases. Signs of caffeine intoxication include anxiety, gastrointestinal distress, insomnia, pacing, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, and tremor.

Caffeine is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food products. A regular 12-ounce soda is allowed to contain up to 71 milligrams of caffeine but typically contains about 35 milligrams. Meanwhile, energy drinks circumvent regulations as they are considered dietary supplements, which are not within the agency’s jurisdiction. What’s more, there are no indications on warning labels, as these are on over-the-counter products.

A prior study from Johns Hopkins Medical Institution indicated that, “The caffeine content varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, yet the caffeine amounts are unlabeled and few include warnings about potential of caffeine intoxication,” according to a previous The Richmond Register report. The authors indicated that energy drinks should have warning labels to inform consumers of the risks.

Have You Been Injured by Energy Drinks?

If you or someone you know sustained injury, including liver damage, caffeine overdose, or other injuries associated with consumption of energy drinks, you may have valuable legal rights. We urge you to contact Parker Waichman’s Energy Drink injury lawyers by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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