Weekly Checkup: Energy Drinks

When students bounce from class to student organization meetings to parties, energy drinks are an easy way to stay awake. But recent studies show that frequent consumption of drinks such as Red Bull is not only unhealthy but also dangerous in certain situations.

The use of Red Bull with vodka or Yagermeister mixes a depressant with alcohol and could lead to an increase in heart rate and a heightened chance of injury. A study released in early November at an American Public Health Association Conference showed those who mix energy drinks with alcohol are twice as likely to be injured or come to harm than those who consume alcohol not infused with a liquid energy jolt. The study, released by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, was an online survey of more than 4,500 college students from 10 universities.

Susan Haney, the outreach coordinator at Student Health Service, said the biggest problem with drinking too many energy drinks, on top of the increased possibility of injury, is dehydration. Especially when drinking alcohol, an increased dehydration rate is potentially dangerous. Due to the high level of stimulants, energy drinks cause users to eventually feel weak and dizzy. When mixed with alcohol, energy drinks increase the chance of students passing out. She also said a lot of students end up at Student Health Service after using caffeine stimulants to stay up all night and study. The heightened level of caffeine eventually leads to the students feeling uncomfortable, anxious and jittery, she said.

When considering whether to chug an energy drink before heading to Gelman or to order alcohol with an energy twist, the brand of energy drink matters as well, Haney said. Certain drinks such as Red Bull contain 80 milligrams of caffeine, while some drinks, such as SoBe No Fear or Daredevil include up to 300 milligrams of caffeine. These amounts of caffeine increase not only your energy levels but also danger levels.

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