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Clinical Symptoms and Adverse Effects Associated With Energy Drink Consumption in Adolescents

Bashir, Dalia, MD*; Reed-Schrader, Essie, BS; Olympia, Robert P., MD; Brady, Jodi, MD§; Rivera, Ruby, MD; Serra, Theresa, MD; Weber, Christopher, BS

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000703
Original Articles

Objective The aims of the study were to determine the prevalence of energy drink consumption by adolescents, to identify associated clinical symptoms and adverse effects, and to gain an understanding to the motivation behind its consumption.

Methods A prospective, questionnaire-based study was conducted at 2 emergency departments from June 2011 to June 2013. The questionnaire was distributed to a convenience sample of adolescents aged 12 to 18 years. Stratification was performed on the basis of frequency of consumption: frequent consumption (at least once a month) and infrequent consumption (less frequent than once a month).

Results Data analysis was performed on 612 completed questionnaires. Two hundred two responders (33%) were considered frequent energy drink consumers. Frequent consumers were more likely to be involved in high-risk behaviors and more likely to consume other caffeinated drinks. In the previous 6 months, frequent energy drink consumers were more likely to report headache (76%), anger (47%), and increased urination (24%) and were more likely to require medical evaluation for headache (41%) and difficulty breathing (22%). Frequent energy drink consumers were more likely to believe that energy drinks “help me do better in school” (12%), “help me do better in sports” (35%), “are just for fun” (46%), “help me stay up at night” (67%), and “make me concentrate/focus better” (34%).

Conclusions Clarifying common misconceptions associated with energy drink consumption, especially in high-risk adolescents and frequent energy drink consumers, may decrease the frequency of symptoms experienced by adolescents, such as headache and difficulty breathing, requiring medical evaluation.

From the *Pediatric Residency Program, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital; †Penn State College of Medicine; ‡Department of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, Penn State Hershey Medical Center/Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital; §Department of Pediatrics, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Hershey, PA; ∥Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, NY; and ¶Pediatric Residency Program, Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, NY.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Robert P. Olympia, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, 500 University Dr, PO Box 850, Hershey, PA (e-mail:

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