Caffeine crazy

I've mentioned before about how much I like Diet Coke. My (non-blog) friends joke with me all the time about potential withdrawl symptoms if I'm not carrying my Diet Coke.

However, I had no idea what a fad and craze they are these days, especially with younger people. I remember in college a drink called Jolt cola and their claim to fame is having twice the caffeine as regular coca-cola. This definitely helped me though many an "all-nighter" preparing during final exam week.

According to Cnn.Com, "Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. That represents 7.6 million teens, a jump of almost 3 million in three years." This fact really amazed me. This is a $3.4 Billion industry. Sheesh!

Unfortunately, caffeine overdose reports are becoming more and more frequent - mainly because of the combination of caffeine and other chemicals like alcohol and drugs. I'm just starting to see this in my small community. But, apparently, this becoming a major problem in the larger cities.

"Young people are taking caffeine to stay awake, or perhaps to get high, and many of them are ending up in the emergency department," said Dr. Danielle McCarthy of Northwestern University, who conducted the study. "Caffeine is a drug and should be treated with caution, as any drug is."

How much caffeine do energy drinks contain? A University of Florida study found that some products, although served in cans two-thirds the size of a standard can of Coke, contain two to four times the amount of caffeine as that Coke. Energy drinks are unregulated in the United States, but the authors of the University of Florida paper suggest warning labels for them.

Ok, here we go. Let's now regulate the thing by putting warning labels on them. This is an entire rant in itself. Have warning labels really been effective when placed on things like cigarette packages, alcohol bottles, and music CD covers? C'mon, gimme a break.

But, I digress. Following review of this article and talking with some of my emergency department colleagues, I was really enlightened on the increasing trend of caffeine overdose and caffeine combinations with alcohol/drugs. I think I'll try to talk with my patients to see how prevalent it is in my community.