Effects Of Addiction To Energy Drinks


When it comes to eating, moderation is usually a good adviser; There are many foods that, in excessive quantities, can cause health problems. This is what illustrates the case of a young man, collected in the scientific medium The BMJ , who after consuming about two liters of energy drink every day for two years suffered severe kidney failure and heart failure, which is why he had to be hospitalized in an ICU.

An unusual case
The patient in question was a 21-year-old young man who came to the clinic due to shortness of breath and abdominal swelling. When examined, doctors found that he had kidney failure with urinary retention and severe damage to the heart , with an ejection fraction (of all the blood inside the heart, the ejection fraction is the percentage that comes out with each beat) of 11% (normal values ​​are between 50 and 75%) and thrombi in the two ventricles, formed by blood clotting due to little movement of the blood through the circulatory system.

In addition, the young man had suffered several subclinical (asymptomatic) strokes and suffered from uremic encephalopathy, for which he had to receive emergency hemodialysis.

The funny thing is that, in principle, there seemed to be no reason to explain this state. The patient had no significant personal or family history of kidney or cardiovascular problems; he had quit smoking three years ago and was not using alcohol or illicit substances.

Finding the cause
However, the young man did have an unusual habit: In the two years prior to his arrival at the clinic, he had been consuming four half-liter cans of energy drink daily. Upon learning of this circumstance, the doctors questioned him further and, retrospectively, he recalled having suffered some additional symptoms such as tremors, dyspepsia (discomfort in the upper abdomen) and tachycardia.

However, and although they point to this consumption pattern as the most probable cause of the pathologies, the researchers maintain certain reservations about the causal relationship between the energy drink and the patient’s condition. This is because, until now, the health problems that have been related to this type of drink have more to do with those traditionally linked to excessive sugar intake or specific caffeine overdoses.

The treatment
Given the seriousness of his condition, the patient was transferred to a hospital with cardiovascular support and hemodialysis equipment in case a cardiovascular collapse occurred. Doctors even considered the possibility of performing a simultaneous heart and kidney transplant.

However, it was finally decided to perform several kidney surgeries (specifically bilateral nephrostomy and placement of a ureteral stent) and a pharmacological treatment for cardiovascular damage.

Finally, he could be discharged, although still under surveillance. With the passage of time, his condition improved : he developed a greater tolerance to exercise, his ventricular size normalized, his ejection fraction normalized, and the thrombi disappeared. However, his kidney function continued to be seriously affected, making it likely that at some point he would need a kidney transplant.

The main reason doctors attribute this improvement is not so much the treatment as the abstinence in the consumption of energy drinks.

The patient’s testimony
The report includes a section that is rare in articles of this class: a testimony of the patient himself.

In it, the young man explains that the consumption of energy drinks, which he describes as “very addictive”, was seriously affecting his health and his daily life with a significant interference in his daily tasks and in his university studies.

Likewise, he refers to his hospital admission as “extremely traumatic”, stating that he suffered “delusions, memory problems, insomnia and emotions such as anxiety or depression.”

Therefore, it calls for greater awareness of energy drinks and their potential dangers, and suggests the implementation of warning labels similar to those we are used to seeing in the case of tobacco.

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