ANCHORAGE - As fridge space continues to be taken by energy drink companies, young people continue to experiment.
The New York Times is reporting that a Maryland mother is suing Monster Beverage after her 14-year-old daughter drank a number of the energy drinks and died.
A medical examiner report says she died of a heart attack due to caffeine toxicity. But the Food and Drug Administration told the NYT there’s no proven link yet between the girl's death and the drink.
In Anchorage, a student at West High says she and a friend experimented with the Monster energy drink for a whole summer.
"I like to stay up really really late, 'til like 6 in the morning so I drink 5 to 6 from midnight to 6 a.m.,” said the student.
But over-consuming could land you in the emergency room.
“Large quantities in a short period of time is when we start to see people have symptoms from these drinks,” said Dr. David Cadogan, an emergency physician at Alaska Regional Hospital.
Dr. Cadogan says he usually sees teens and people in their 20s seeking help in the early hours of the morning on weekends.
“People will feel like their heart is racing; sometimes they get sweaty, jittery, anxious,” he said.
Most patients are told they just have to wait until the chemicals have worn off. But, doctors warn, if someone has a pre-existing heart condition it can be a dangerous combination.
“It's not just like having a cup of coffee where it’s purely caffeine. A lot of time it's combined with other stimulants so people don't know what they are taking and aren't sure how much is too much,” said Dr. Cadogan.
Dietitians say not understanding how much caffeine is in a single drink is one of the problems.
Young Fisher, a dietitian at Alaska Regional Hospital, says the FDA doesn't require energy drink companies to report natural sources of caffeine on labels. It’s only the synthetic caffeine produced in labs that’s included in most cases.
“So the estimated caffeine that consumers see on the energy drinks might actually be quite under lower than what it actually is,” said Young Fisher.
Students in Anchorage appear to be listening to the warnings.
“They don't just chug the whole thing right away, I think people know that it's possibly dangerous,” said West freshman Ryland Jones.