Energy Drinks Increase Chance Of Serious Brain Injuries In Teens
Written by: Kirsten Cowart
In the past year, teens who had an accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury were 7 times more likely to have consumed 5 energy drinks or more in the week preceding the injury.
According to the study published in PLOS ONE, teens who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) were also twice as likely to have mixed an energy drink with alcohol compared to the TBI of the previous year.
This indicates that teens are becoming more likely to consume energy drinks and mix them with alcohol before sustaining a major head injury.
Increased Brain Injuries
“We’ve found a link between increased brain injuries and the consumption of energy drinks or energy drinks mixed with alcohol,” said Neurosurgeon from St Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Michael Cusimano. “This is significant, because energy drinks have previously been associated with general injuries, but not specifically with TBI.”
Energy Drinks Will Also Make It Harder To Heal
Dr. Michael Cusimano also reported that drinking energy drinks could affect how the teens heal from a brain injury. “Energy drinks, such a Redbull and Rockstar, contain high levels of caffeine and change the chemical state of the body, which can prevent people from getting back on track after a TBI… Brain injuries among adolescents are particularly concerning, because their brains are still developing.”
Energy Drink Consumption Is On The Rise In US And Canada
Caffeinated drinks are particularly popular with teens in the US and Canada, especially among those who play sports.
“I think that energy drinks appeal to teens, especially athletes, because the drinks provide temporary benefits such as increased alertness, improved mood and enhanced mental and physical states,” said Dr. Cusimano. “Advertisements for the drinks also often feature prominent athletes.”
Teens Who Play Sports Are The Most At Risk
With all the pressure of performance and the strong push of the energy drink marketing campaigns, it is no wonder that teens who play sports are getting hurt more.
Teens who suffered a TBI this past year while playing sports were 2 times more likely to have consumed energy drinks. This indicates that when our teens drink energy drinks, something is causing them to take greater risks and end up in situations that could damage their brain and make it harder to recover.
Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that at first helps a person with a boost of energy that also can increase focus. It increases the blood pressure and heart rate in those who consume it.
However, we all know that what goes up must come down. The downside is that after you consume caffeine, your body and mind will crash. Everything will slow down and it will become much harder to function.
To counter that affect, teens are likely to consume more caffeine and/or jump into highly caffeinated drinks – such as energy drinks – to help themselves last longer.
Mixing With Alcohol
“It is particularly concerning to see that teens who report a recent TBI are also twice as likely to report consuming energy drinks mixed with alcohol,” said senior scientist Dr. Robert Mann, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and the director of OSDUHS. “While we cannot say this link is causal, it’s a behaviour that could cause further injury and so we should be looking at this relationship closely in future research.”
22% of all students surveyed said that they had experienced a TBI. Sports injuries were responsible for nearly half of the TBI cases this year.
Mixing caffeine with alcohol is a potentially dangerous combination in the brain. The alcohol will slow down your brain while the caffeine fights to speed it up. Between the two, a battle is started that may cause unbalanced emotions and a compromised decision-making ability, especially in teens.
Professionals, Parents, Teachers And Coaches Be Aware
Be extremely cautious when allowing your children to play sports or engage in other dangerous activities if they are under the influence of highly caffeinated beverages.
The caffeine may appear to be helping performance, but the risks of injury – especially brain injury – should be enough cause to educate your children about avoiding these dangerous drinks.
What natural ways do you stay energized and focused without the use of caffeine? Let us know your experiences and tips in the comments below.
St. Michael’s Hospital. “Energy drinks linked to traumatic brain injury in teens: Energy drink consumption could interfere with recovery efforts.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916161830.htm>
Caffeine – http://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body
Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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