Energy Drinks Can Have a Variety of Adverse Effects on the Body
By Martha Grogan, M.D.- Mayo Clinic Medical Edge
DEAR MAYO CLINIC:
My grandson has several energy drinks a day. Is this bad for his health?
It certainly could be.
Energy drinks come in a variety of formulations but most contain lots of caffeine and sugar -- and possibly herbal stimulants and a supplementary amino acid known as taurine.
However, it can be difficult to determine what's in them or how much.
Having an occasional energy drink isn't necessarily bad, especially those that contain about the same amount of caffeine as a cup or two of coffee and a similar amount of sugar as a can of soda. But many energy drinks contain much higher amounts of caffeine and other substances.
High amounts of caffeine and sugar -- and whatever herbal stimulants may be added -- can have a variety of adverse effects.
They may cause a markedly faster heartbeat, irritability, nervousness, impaired sleep and nausea. In addition, the acids and sugars in these drinks promote tooth decay, and the sugar contains a lot of extra calories and little other nutritional value.
By itself, massive amounts of caffeine can increase your blood pressure and sometimes impair blood flow to your heart. It may trigger abnormal heart rhythms, which can be life-threatening in some people. Increased risk of a potential heart problem rises when energy drinks are consumed along with alcohol, when you're dehydrated, or when consumed quickly before a sporting event. Serious medical problems, including fainting or even a heart attack can occur due to consumption of energy drinks in these situations.
It's important to educate your grandson about the potential hazards of energy drinks. Perhaps you can encourage him to read the labels to determine the contents and amounts of caffeine and other ingredients. It may be helpful to remind your grandson that the best route to a healthy, energetic life is to get adequate sleep, exercise regularly and to eat a healthy diet.
-- Martha Grogan, M.D., Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Have you heard the term "hospitalist" but are not sure what it means?
A hospitalist is a physician whose primary professional focus is the care of hospitalized patients. Most hospitalists are board-certified internal medicine physicians, although some are pediatricians and family practice physicians. What brings them under the same umbrella is that they work exclusively in the hospital and have dedicated their careers to the care of hospitalized patients.
Hospitalists are an important part of the care team because the hospital (inpatient) setting often creates different patient-care situations than those in the clinic (outpatient) setting. Working day in and day out within the fast-paced, often intense, hospital environment, hospitalists gain unique expertise and experience that benefits patients when they are in the hospital.
Hospitalists partner with primary care physicians to care for patients when they require hospitalization and work to ensure smooth transfer of care between inpatient and outpatient settings. Hospitalists meet with some patients before surgery for preoperative evaluations and follow up with them afterward for postoperative care.
Hospitalists work closely with surgeons and other specialty and sub-specialty physicians.
They also coordinate communication with referring physicians to assure continuity of care before, during and after a patient's hospital stay.
In some cases, hospitalists may work with patients preparing to move from the hospital to a nursing home or an assisted-care facility, to help smooth the transition from one care environment to another.
Hospitalists are well positioned to be leaders in quality improvement and patient safety initiatives. The overall goal of a hospitalist is to work collaboratively as part of the health care team to ensure that patients receive high-quality care in the hospital.
-- Alina Popa, M.D., Hospital Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn't replace regular medical care.
To submit a question, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic, c/o TMS, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y., 14207.
(c) 2009 MAYO FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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