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Energy Drink Use and Adverse Effects Among Emergency Department Patients


Energy drink usage is common and contains caffeine or other stimulants. We evaluated demographics, prevalence, reasons and adverse effects with consuming energy beverages. Cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of patients recruited from two San Diego Emergency Departments from January to December 2009. One-thousand-two-hundred-ninety-eight subjects participated of which 52.6% were male. Ethnicity: Caucasian 48.3%, African American 17%, Hispanic 18%, Other 16.7%. Age ranges: 18–29 years (38.4%), 30–54 years (49.6%) and greater than 55 years (12%). Reasons for use: 57% to “increase energy”, 9.5% for studying/work projects, 2.4% while prolonged driving, improve sports performance 2%, with ethanol 6.3%, “other” reasons 22.1%. Adverse reactions reported by 33.5% (429) patients. Two-hundred-eighty report feeling “shaky/jittery”, insomnia 136, palpitations 150, gastrointestinal upset 82, headache 68, chest pain 39, and seizures in 6. Eighty-five patients reported co-ingestion with illicit “stimulants” including cocaine and methamphetamine. We identified one-third of patients reported at least one adverse effect. Whilst most were not severe, a small number were serious e.g., seizures. In addition, some report purposely ingesting with illicit drugs.

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Correspondence to Sean Patrick Nordt.

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Nordt, S.P., Vilke, G.M., Clark, R.F. et al. Energy Drink Use and Adverse Effects Among Emergency Department Patients. J Community Health 37, 976–981 (2012).

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  • Energy drink
  • Energy beverage
  • Sports drink
  • Caffeine
  • Guarana