by Gopalan on  November 23, 2008 at 10:05 AM Lifestyle News
 13-year-old Girl Addicted to Energy Drinks Warned of Heart Attack Risk
Energy drink abuse is emerging a major area of concern. A 13-year-old girl in the UK has been warned she is risking heart attack if she doesn't give up on Red Bull.

Naomi Haynes had always liked the buzz she got from the caffeine-laced drinks.

The horror hit home when she collapsed on a holiday with the Sea Cadets and fell unconscious. At the hospital, doctors discovered her heart rate was soaring -and warned that her caffeine addiction could cause health problems. Since then she has been on a counselling session.

Caffeine intoxication is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a medical condition. Symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, stomach upset, tremors and rapid heart beat. In rare cases it can be fatal.

Barry Evans, from drug education group DRED UK, said: 'When people buy caffeine tablets like Pro Plus the packaging warns them about the dangers of using it with other drugs and what the side effects can be, and those tablets can contain much smaller amounts of caffeine than a can of energy drink.

'A can of a drink like Monster could contain four times the amount of caffeine of those tablets.

'It is a serious stimulant. You can get withdrawal symptoms including headaches, irritability, tingling in your fingers and limbs.'

Naomi is now learning relaxation techniques to ease her withdrawal symptoms after giving up Red Bull, Daily Mail reports.

Before she collapsed, Naomi noticed her heart beating 'really fast' and had had some chest pains. 'I thought it wasn't normal and I thought I should see a doctor. I don't remember much of the day I collapsed, I just remember waking up in hospital.

'When the doctors told me I could have had a heart attack I didn't believe them because heart attacks are for people my dad's age. It made me realise I had to get it sorted...It hasn't been easy but I haven't had an energy drink for four months now,' Naomi said.

Naomi had been hooked on the drinks since she was ten. At the height of her dependence she would drink seven cans a day.

The schoolgirl would spend any money she had on them, even borrowing from friends, and would smuggle cans of drinks such as Red Rooster, Red Bull and Relentless into class.

'I got a great buzz from them, but then I would feel tired and unhappy so I would have another drink to pick me up.'

Her father, Matthew, 41, first identified the problem after finding empty cans at the family home in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

What he had assumed were 'typical' teenage mood swings, were actually the side effects of his daughter's habit.

The normally quiet and thoughtful teenager became argumentative and sullen.

Mr Haynes, a full-time carer for his wife, said: 'I realised the coffee was going down and then I found loads of cans in her room. I told her it was dangerous and she promised me she would stop.'

The father of four banned coffee and asked the local shop to stop selling the teenager the drinks, some of which cost just 30p. But Naomi simply started buying them elsewhere.

Mr Haynes added: 'These drinks are dangerous and it's wrong that they can be bought so cheaply.'

Campaigners have called for caffeine-based energy drinks not to be sold to under-16s. They are banned in some schools.

Red Bull said that the drink was not recommended for children. It added: 'One 250ml can contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. The consumption of Red Bull Energy Drink should therefore correspond to a person's intake of coffee.'

Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia