Energy Drinks: Caffeine Intoxication?

Many may think energy drinks are the easiest way to stay awake for school, or to boost athletic performance.

Yet, they aren't only growing in popularity, they're also causing more and more potentially serious health issues.

Monster, Red Bull, and Full Throttle are all drinks that are loaded with caffeine and other stimulants.

It's no surprise that college students often turn to energy drinks to help them study.

"For nursing school, it helps me focus, especially like late at night when you've been through clinicals, you need a little extra to keep studying," said James Riggs, a student. "Just to wake you up. And they definitely help. Like, I had one this morning, actually."

But reports from U.S. Poison Control Centers show surprising stats in regards to the effects of highly-concentrated caffeine.

In a survey of nearly 500 students, they found over half had at least one energy drink in the last month.

19% of those students said the drinks caused heart palpitations, one of the symptoms of little-known caffeine intoxication.

In a few instances, caffeine, combined with hot weather and lack of water, have even caused death.

Kris Henning, a D.A.R.E. officer with the Wichita Falls Police Department, said a lot of times, kids don't really know what they're drinking, much less that excess amounts of caffeine and guarana can damage your heart, liver, and nervous system.

She said even though some drinks have less caffeine than coffee, most people typically drink more than one can.

Midwestern State University students we talked to seem to recognize the potential harm.

"Anything is bad if you take it in excess, so, every now and then I don't really see a problem with it," said Ryan Hannagan, an MSU student.

According to an article in the journal "Drug and Alcohol Dependence,' Americans purchase about $5.5 billion worth of energy drinks a year.

That number is growing by about 55% every year.