Looking for a boost: Death of South Carolina teen highlights caffeine dangers

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a message parents need to hear about those popular energy drinks after a South Carolina 16-year-old died.  His cause of death? Too much caffeine.

Investigators believe he drank a diet soda, a latte and an energy drink within two hours. Sadly, he’s not alone.

We didn’t have to go very far to find a group of college students on a routine outing to Dunkin’ Donuts. They’re the first to admit they’re consuming more caffeine, all because of the pressures of school and making good grades.

Brendon Bloomfield does what many college students do when overwhelmed with stress.

The University of Tampa junior grabs a cup o’ joe.

“It has caramel in it, and two shots of espresso,” Bloomfield said. “Especially when exams area coming around, I’m drinking a lot of coffee. Something like three to four cups a day.”

Unlike most 20-year-olds, he already knows he has heart problems.

“The doctors continue to tell me, but I need that boost of energy,” Bloomfield admitted.

When it’s not coffee, Bloomfield said energy drinks work just as well.

Doctor Alfred Aleguas tells 8 On Your Side those can often times be worse for our bodies, because of the extra additives.

“A lot of them contain taurine, which is one of the amino acids, and that sort of works to enhance the stimulant,” Dr. Alequas explained.

That’s why it’s so important to know what you or your kids are drinking.

“There’s caffeine often hidden in some of the other ingredients, like guarana or yerba mate.”

Dr. Aleguas also suggests that certain people with particular medical issues should avoid too much caffeine.

“People with high blood pressure. People with diabetes because they have other circulatory problems as well as fluctuations in their blood sugar.”

Especially kids like Bloomfield who are already diagnosed with heart problems.

The doctor’s words of wisdom?

“I think the major thing is, like with a lot of things, you have to use moderation!”

Here’s what Web M-D suggests:

  •    Don’t drink more than one caffeinated drink a day.
  •    Don’t substitute diet for regular. They actually usually have more caffeine!

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