Students use energy drinks throughout the semester to give them energy for school, work and other activities.
SLCC student Jeremy Hanson used to rely on them on a daily basis.
“I used to drink energy drinks everyday,” says Hanson. “I was a big fan of the 5 Hour Energy. My body was so used to them that I would drag if I didn’t have at least one a day. Many nights I was up late doing homework or studying I would use energy drinks to keep me awake.”
Most energy drinks contain at least as much caffeine as an eight-ounce cup of coffee or a 12-ounce soda. The small “energy shot” drinks like 5 Hour Energy contain an even higher concentration of caffeine-between 90 and 171 mg per ounce.
Caffeine is addictive and can act as a stimulant and a diuretic. As a stimulant, caffeine can cause heart palpitations, insomnia and anxiety attacks.
In addition to the caffeine, energy drinks also contain large amounts of sugar and herbal stimulants
“I was having problems sleeping at night,” says Hanson. “I thought I might have had insomnia. I also had dizzy spells throughout the day. I told my doctor that I was drinking energy drinks frequently and he told me to stop immediately. As soon as I went off them my sleeping improved.”
When consumed in large amounts, caffeine can cause jitters and irritability.
Caffeine is a diuretic that causes the kidneys to get rid of extra fluid from the body. If consumed while sweating, energy drinks can cause severe dehydration.
“I replaced my energy drinks with water and it made such a difference in how I felt,” says Hanson.
Many younger people mix energy drinks with alcohol
Alcohol and caffeine together can cause severe dehydration that can be dangerous, and the energy from caffeine can make a person underestimate his or her impairment from alcohol.
The consequences of consuming this much caffeine includes seizures, liver damage or even death. In pregnant women, energy drinks can cause late miscarriages, small fetus size and stillbirths.
“I’m so glad I stopped drinking energy drinks when I did,” said Hanson. “I didn’t realize the harm I was doing to my body.”