Written By: Kiana Oliver
Editor’s note: The following article is written in partnership with Counseling Services and the Southern Accent.
Do you want to hear a scary story? This story isn’t the kind that makes you peek around every corner to see if something is going to jump out at you. But it might make you rethink your choice of caffeinated beverages. According to an article published by The Guardian, a 16-year-old teenager passed away after drinking a large amount of caffeinated drinks in a short period of time. In less than two hours, Davis Allen Cripe had consumed a McDonald’s latte, a large Mountain Dew and a highly caffeinated energy drink. Sadly, Davis collapsed and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The cause of his death? According to the coroner, Davis died from a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.”
Cases of caffeine-induced arrhythmia are rare. Regardless, let’s estimate how much caffeine Davis drank on that fateful day. The sizes of the drinks were unreported, but using the Caffeine Informer website, we can see that a 16-ounce McDonald’s latte contains 142 milligrams of caffeine, and a 20-ounce Mountain Dew has 90 milligrams. Depending on the brand (i.e., GFuel, Bang Energy, Monster, Rockstar etc.), energy drinks can contain between 100 to over 300 milligrams of caffeine. Compare these numbers to what the Food and Drug Administration cites as the maximum daily amount generally disassociated with negative effects: 400 milligrams (about 4 cups) of caffeine.
Even if you don’t drink a traditional cup of joe, caffeine can also be found in items such as tea, soft drinks, gums and medications. In a 2019 study, Caroline R. Mahoney and her colleagues measured college students’ caffeine intake. The results? In a year, 92% of college students consumed caffeine in different forms.
So what’s the point of this article? Am I using cheap scare tactics to convince my readers to quit caffeine? Yes and no. Let me explain.
Regardless of whether you support caffeine’s possible health benefits, it’s still a substance that can be misused and negatively alter your body’s functioning. For example, if you suffer from a panic disorder or anxiety, you might want to avoid that Starbucks latte. A systematic review by Lisa Klevebrant and Andreas Frick found that caffeine doses at around five cups of coffee those caffeine doses can induce panic attacks and increase anxiety.
At the end of the day, you are responsible for your body’s health. Don’t just read this article; get out there and research for yourself! If you do suspect you’re eating or drinking too much caffeine, here are the potential health problems, according to an article published by MedlinePlus.gov:
- Restlessness and shakiness
- Increased heart rate
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