You've seen the commercials, maybe even tried the products. What's in a tiny, red bottle claims to give you an energy boost that lasts five hours, but at what cost?
The FDA is investigating a link between 5-hour energy drinks and the deaths of more than a dozen people. A lot of parents want to know, are these drinks safe?
Like anything else, when taken in moderation and as directed, these products should be safe. But, when you take too much or mix it with alcohol, experts say the combination of chemical stimulants and your body's own natural energy boosters can send your system into overload.
"It's like my brain just stops working, I feel fuzzy, groggy, I can barely keep my eyes open," said the actors in one 5-hour energy commercial. Their ads promise energy without a sugar crash. "Zero sugar, only four calories."
But the FDA is investigating reports that may connect 13 deaths over the last four years to 5-hour energy shots.
"So they said there's not necessarily a cause and effect relationship between 5-hour energy and the adverse effects," said FOX13's Medical Doctor Joette Giovinco. "However, they are encouraging anyone who has any adverse reaction, to call them up and that could mean other energy drinks as well."
Consumer Reports tested the product and found it contains roughly 215 milligrams of caffeine in each bottle, which is equivalent to about two cups of coffee.
"The concept that if a little bit is good, a lot is better, is a huge problem," said Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger with Tampa Poison Control. She said what happens is people take too many energy shots, and their body's natural chemical stimulants kick-in sending the body into overdrive.
"Excess amounts of anything can be toxic," she said.
Symptoms of distress include heart rate increasing, along with blood pressure and you can become agitated.
"If you have enough of those chemicals in your body, you could actually end-up having things like heart attacks and strokes," said Dr. Younger.
In response to media reports, 5-hour energy posted on their website that, "5-hour energy is a compact-sized energy shot intended for busy adults, it is not an energy drink or marketed as a beverage."
(You can read their full statement at: http://www.5hourenergy.com/docs/5HE-Statement-11132012.pdf)
"Oh I love it!," said Dylan Nunn. "Couldn't get through my day without it!"
Nunn is in Tampa from Seattle, WA, putting in 12-hour days building UT's new lacrosse stadium.
He loves taking the stuff.
"Every day!," he said enthusiastically. "Sometimes twice a day!"
His body is still on western time and he said he needs a boost.
"Oh yeah! I drink it, 20 minutes go by, 5 or 6 in the morning I'm good to go," Nunn said. "And then afternoon, I'm eating my lunch, take another one, I'm good to go the rest of the day."
Living Essentials, LLC, which distributes 5-hour energy said on its website that they take reports of any potential adverse event tied to their products very seriously. Also, that they are unaware of any deaths proven to have been caused by the consumption of 5-hour energy.
Tampa's Poison Control Center recommends you program this phone number into your cell phone, in case you ever are in an emergency and feel like you've ingested too much of anything. The number is: 1-800-222-1222.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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