side effects of energy drinks

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the side effects of energy drinks. People are receiving warnings by the day to stay away from these drinks. It owes to their adverse effects, some of which include death. And not only that, these drinks have flooded the market at a fast pace. Now, everywhere you look, there is an energy drink promising to elevate your energy levels.

That would be okay if these drinks were only available to adults. But that is not the case. Even minors are enjoying a sip or two of these beverages. While energy drinks may offer some benefits to consumers, they can be harmful when taken often in large amounts. And that is the reason why health authorities across the world have taken up an issue with their production.

Energy drinks might seem healthy, more so owing to the marketing strategies used by manufacturers. They present them as energy elevators with a ton of health benefits. From increased focus to more energy to reduced fatigue, the promises are many. Some manufacturers also include the use of natural products, thus presenting their goods as all-natural. But what they do not show is the dark side of these beverages.

So, what are the side effects of energy drinks? Cardiac arrest, headaches, added anxiety, sleep difficulties, diabetes, increased blood pressure and dependency are some of the side effects of energy drinks.

Read on to learn all about these side effects and potential dangers linked to energy drink consumption.

Harmful side effects linked to energy drinks

Cardiac Arrest

Using energy drinks increases palpitations, and this can hurt one’s heart. It is thus not advisable for people with underlying heart conditions to consume these beverages. Even those with otherwise healthy hearts should be careful when downing these drinks. The risk exists even when one has taken a few drinks.

Anyone who wishes to drink an energy drink should be aware of their heart’s health. If they notice that the drink has caused a negative change, they should seek medical attention immediately.

Why is this? Energy drinks cause forceful heart contractions in a bid to increase blood flow. While this may not harm some people, it could cause cardiac arrest in others. There have been several reports of this in the past, involving people of all ages.

Cardiac Arrest

Studies show that taking energy drinks before or during participating in workouts increases the risk of cardiac arrest. As one moves about, even without a drink, the heart rate speeds up. Now add forced contractions to this, and things get thick. Children and teens are at a high risk of suffering heart problems when they consume these drinks. Their heart rates are already up, and the drinks only work in elevating them. Studies done in the past have pointed to several cases involving children getting rushed to the hospital—the reason being: that they consumed energy drinks, and their hearts could not handle the contractions.

For people with pre-existing conditions, this cardiac arrest could be fatal. You see, when people take energy drinks, not only their heart rate changes. Studies show that inner artery diameters reduce significantly, almost by half. That means that blood flow gets restricted, and this reduces the flow throughout the body. It is not clear whether sugar and caffeine are to blame for this. But you can imagine the result if this were to take place where a heart is already struggling.

Blood pressure throughout the body also suffers when one takes energy drinks. That should be okay for most people. But how about people who already have low blood pressure? What would happen in their case? Also, how long can your body withstand this reduced pressure without giving in? Tests show that a liter of energy drinks can change the heart rhythm as well as blood pressure within an hour. And guess what? That happens, regardless of the level of caffeine in the drinks. That means that you can consume a given energy drink, thinking that it is safe – only for you to end up in the ER.


Headaches resulting from the use of energy drinks vary in intensity. Some people experience a dull pain while others suffer migraines. These can come about in two ways. Energy drinks generally comprise a myriad of ingredients. From caffeine to milk thistle to B vitamins, there is a lot taking place at once. As a result, one can easily suffer a reaction to one of the components. Taking too many drinks at once increases the chances of such a reaction. That’s one cause of these pains.

Another is withdrawal. Once one decides to do away with energy drinks, withdrawal might not be that easy. Some people suffer headaches as a result and have a hard time freeing themselves from the habit. It is almost similar to reducing the amount of coffee you take.


Added Anxiety

Some people feel relaxed after consuming energy drinks. They can use the newfound energy to work on projects. And then there are those with variations in their adenosine receptors. To these people, these elevated energy levels do not work to their advantage.

While other people ease into the stimulation, these ones become more aware of their anxieties. The more they consume the energy drinks, the worse it becomes. Panic attacks are likely to occur in such cases. Anxious people should stay away from these beverages, because of the side effects of energy drinks. Instead of helping you stay calm, they could make you feel even more exposed to your fears.


Sleeping Difficulty

With heightened energy levels, it will be difficult for anyone to sleep after taking an energy drink. The body is alert and ready to keep going, even if you want to go to bed. That should be okay in some cases. It could be that you have some deadlines to beat in a given month. So you make it a habit to take energy drinks to keep your spirits high. One drink turns into two, and the more you consume, the more alert you become.

Then comes the end of the month, and you are now ready to be free of the beverages. The problem is, you cannot get shuteye no matter how hard you try. It owes to an imbalance in the system that gets in the way of you getting the rest you need. You feel tired but cannot sleep. What the body wants is an energy drink, given that there is some dependency taking place.

You will probably end up taking more energy drinks to stay awake and give in to this need. The result is that you cannot sleep, and the body will feel exhausted. That makes it dangerous for you to drive or undertake any activities that require focus. It gets to the point that what you avoided (sleep) becomes the thing you crave a lot.



There are two forms of diabetes, and in this case, we will focus on type 2, which results from lifestyle factors. The thing with energy drinks is that they are sweet, and this makes them appeal to people of all ages. One drink will not do you much harm. If anything, it will give you a sugar high that will help you focus. Then you will have another later, maybe that day or on a later date. Once you create a habit, then you embark on a long journey whose destination is a lifestyle disease.

The more you consume this high sugar, the more you wear out the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. And you know how important it is for you to produce this insulin. Over time, the cells can no longer function as needed, and your health starts failing. Type 2 diabetes can then develop, and this can pave the way for a whole lot of other diseases. And that is not all; you can gain unhealthy weight from consuming too many energy drinks. The problems that would emanate from this in the long term would likely be lifestyle diseases.

diabetes side effects of energy drinks

Interaction with meds

When you are taking medicine, you should be careful as to what else you introduce in your body. However, people do not often give much thought to this. How often do you read the pamphlet that comes with the medicine? Most people will read the required dosage and go by what their doctor says. Doing the bare minimum is okay in most cases until you take something that interacts with the drugs.

Some meds interact with energy drink ingredients, and this leads to harmful effects. People on antidepressants should be especially careful when taking anything that works in increasing energy levels. That can work against them and leave them feeling worse.

Energy drink dependency

You have probably heard people describing themselves as being addicted to something. Some people say they cannot live without movies. But if you were to leave them without the movies, they would be fine. They would not suffer headaches, palpitations, irritability, and other such factors. But some might.

With energy drinks, addiction is always around the corner, owing to the high caffeine content. It starts with one can; then two; then someone starts drinking the beverage every day. Sometimes, they take more than they should, but who is counting? It becomes a habit that they cannot kick. They have to start and end their day with an energy drink. And then they realize that they have a problem, owing to an intervention or the occurrence of a health condition. And even then, they cannot stop.

How can you know you are addicted? You can look at where your money is going. How much have you spent on energy drinks? Also, can you function as needed without that kick? If answers to these questions are brow-raising, then you probably have an addiction.

Kicking energy drink addiction can be as hard as kicking any other habit. Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to tremors, headaches, and agitation.

energy drink dependency

Unexplained Behavior

Taking an energy drink gives you a kind of a high. You feel powerful, capable of doing what you set your mind on doing, and it feels great. For most people, handling this high should not be a problem. Their bodies can release this energy in small portions, allowing them to concentrate on other tasks.

With younger people, more so teens, that is not their case. Their bodies are at the developmental stage. They absorb caffeine at high rates, fuelling that high like you would not believe. And let’s not forget. These are teens – well into their experimental and adventurous phase. They are in for most things that will make them feel good. Combine this adventurous spirit with a high, and that becomes a recipe for trouble.

They feel invincible and are willing to take on risks. It can go wrong, ending in legal trouble or injury. And these are actions that they might not be in a position to take back.


This effect is a tad different from anxiety. Under anxiety, we dealt with generally anxious people, even when they are not under the effect of a substance. With nervousness, it comes down to people who are usually calm. However, on taking energy drinks, their behavior changes, and they become what you would call jittery. They start biting on their nails, pacing up and down, and acting in a manner they usually would not.

The essence of consuming energy drinks is to increase productivity. That cannot happen when one’s mind is not at peace. People who feel jittery can end up doing less than what they had anticipated. Also, people new to this feeling can feel emotional about it. Being emotional when using a foreign substance might not end well for them.



Like we stated earlier, energy drinks are more than just caffeine. They comprise a range of ingredients, some of which you might be sensitive to. One drink may not bring out this reaction. However, a few drinks later, nausea can come about. In some cases, people end up vomiting. If this goes on for a while, dehydration can occur. Also, acid erosion of the teeth is likely, though, at a small level.

Nausea side effects of energy drinks

Energy drink ingredient allergies

Before consuming an energy drink, you should go through the list of ingredients. That way, you can tell if a drink can harm you or not. In some cases, you may not know until you down the drink and suffer the results. Allergic reactions range from minor symptoms like itching to severe ones such as difficulty in breathing. If you feel that you are experiencing a reaction, you should stop taking the drink and seek medical advice.

Increased Blood Pressure

People with high blood pressure often have a list of things that they can and cannot eat. Energy drinks should fall into the ‘cannot eat’ list. You see, these beverages work in increasing blood pressure. They get more blood circulating in the system, and this affects the energy levels. Where your blood pressure is normal, this change should be okay. However, if your blood pressure is already high, this change could be fatal. Not only can you suffer a stroke, but you could also pave the way for other health conditions.

Why does this happen? You have probably seen people with high blood pressure taking caffeinated products without adverse effects. Why then should energy drinks be a problem? Well, the thing with energy drinks is that they contain several ingredients. Caffeine is not the only player in this case. As such, the likelihood of adverse interactions and reactions is high.

Blood Pressure

Damage to Organs

Not only the heart is at risk of failure, but other organs as well. One component of energy drinks is B vitamins. You can get this from following a healthy diet or using supplements. The latter often aid in meeting recommended daily limits. However, you should only use them upon the advice of a doctor. Else, you might be overdosing on vitamins. Yes, that’s a thing.

Some manufacturers are now in the habit of promoting their products as having vitamins. That earns them consumers who hope to meet their daily limits by consuming the drinks. The thing is that you will not suffer an overdose in vitamins when you stick to a few cans a day. However, if you consume more cans than necessary, you put your health at risk. Taking too many vitamins can have the opposite effect on your health.

Take an example of vitamin B3, also known as niacin. At normal levels, it should be fine, and you can achieve this through diet. But if you choose to take an energy drink that contains it, that is another story. Taking too much of B3 can lead to palpitations, gout, lightheadedness, nausea, and itching, among others. Continued overdose can lead to liver problems such as non-viral hepatitis. That happened to a man who consumed five cans of energy drinks each day for three weeks. It points to the likelihood of accidental overdoses and what they can do to the body.

Added Stress

Taking an energy drink should work in heightening your energy and making you feel great. That is what one would expect of these beverages. However, studies show that these drinks could harm one’s mental health. They work to increase the release of stress hormones. That’s why some people suffer agitation and other such symptoms upon consuming energy drinks. It can be worse where someone already felt stressed before taking the drink.

These drinks and mental health issues have a strong link. Studies conducted on soldiers showed that the consumption of more than two energy drinks resulted in added aggression. They can also cause fatigue and exacerbate existing issues.


Energy drink short-term side effects

Are you curious as to how long it takes for energy drink effects to kick in? Well, it takes ten minutes for the body to absorb caffeine and forty-five minutes for you to feel the effects. Within one hour, the effects of the caffeine reduce, and so do the energy levels. The caffeine leaves your bloodstream in twelve hours. Withdrawal symptoms can start at any time after that. They include irritability and constipation.


What can you do if you want to kick the habit? Well, the best way to prevent any of these side effects of energy drinks would be to stay away from energy drinks. However, if you have developed a dependency on them, you should start slow and seek help. Kicking caffeine addiction does not happen as fast as you might want it to, but you can do it. All the best!


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