Caffeine with consequences

Levi Manley, Staff Writer

School nurse Kristin Sheldahl knows about energy drinks. One time a student drank two Monsters on a dare from his friends. He had not eaten that day. Soon the symptoms hit. While the caffeine in the drinks did not cause a panic attack, its effects mimicked the physical symptoms of one without the mental side of it. Sheldahl sent him to lunch to get some food and drink water.

“These things (energy drinks) are loaded with caffeine and are terrible for adolescent teenagers,” Sheldahl said.

According to Statista, consumers purchased over $3.7 billion of energy drinks in 2020. Energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Bang can provide energy, but also have horrible consequences.

Side effects can be many and could include the following:

  • Dental erosion
  • Heart problems
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia

These problems usually do not take effect right after the first sip of an energy drink. It takes many of these drinks to start seeing problems.

“I started drinking these cause of the taste,” Olivia McBee ’21 said. Her favorites are watermelon Red Bull and Mucho Mango and Rosé Monster. She does not think she drinks too many. “The biggest thing that I’m worried about when drinking too many of these is having a heart attack or a migraine,” she said.

Ashley Danielson, a Hy-Vee dietitian, advises drinking water. “These things are terrible for you,” she said. “There are multiple ways to get more of a natural caffeine which includes stuff like coffee and teas. She said water helps rid the body of energy drinks and it helps to fight the dehydration that occurs when drinking caffeine.

Ashlynn Riley ’22  drinks two or three Monsters a day. She began drinking energy drinks during the summer. “I started drinking these after I felt restless,” she said. “I am always thinking about these problems with drinking these energy drinks, but I really don’t care.” When she does not drink several a day she suffers from bad headaches, one of the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.

“This is a sign of an addiction,” health teacher Daniel Mennen said. “The biggest reason why people drink more than one of these a day is because of tolerance.” Tolerance can cause people to become used to three drinks and have even worse withdrawal symptoms.  These problems are what come with breaking the habit of drinking energy drinks.

Sutter Health, a nonprofit network of hospitals in northern California, said that some of the side effects of caffeine withdraw are massive headaches, marked fatigue, anxiety, tremors and irritability.

“The biggest way it affects athletes is dehydration,” Mennen said, and can affect athletes’ performance during competition and also cause craps, headaches, and blurred vision.

“I don’t even agree with the stuff that’s in those,” cross country coach Matt Jaschen said. “[It causes athletes to not reach their] full performance, or when they go home after a competition that they don’t get the rest and recovery that they need as an athlete.” The  drinks can also lead to overexertion, which can cause head injuries, especially while playing contact sports like football.

Mennen, also a football coach, agreed with Jaschen that the drinks are not conducive to athletic performance. “The biggest way it affects athletes is dehydration,” he said.