Hepatitis and Energy Drinks

Well, that did take a bit longer than expected. Energy drinks can cause heart problems[1] and even death[2]. That much was already known. But now it appears that the consumption of four to five energy drinks daily for three weeks can already cause painful and potentially fatal hepatitis[3].
A previously healthy man went to his doctor complaining of malaise, anorexia, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, generalised jaundice, scleral icterus and dark urine. He was not on any prescription or over-the-counter medications, but reported drinking 4–5 energy drinks daily for 3 weeks prior to presentation.

Laboratory studies showed transaminitis (elevation of certain enzymes in the liver) and evidence of chronic Hepatitis C infection. A liver biopsy showed severe acute hepatitis with bridging necrosis and marked cholestasis (reduction or even stoppage of bile flow).

The development of acute hepatitis in this patient was likely secondary to excessive energy drink consumption. Energy drinks should be considered when patients arrive with acute hepatitis.

[1] Tofield: Energy drinks can cause heart problems in European Heart Journal – 2015
[2] Kaşıkçıoğlu E: Sports, energy drinks, and sudden cardiac death: stimulant cardiac syndrome in Anatolian Journal of Cardiology -2017
[3] Harb et al: Rare cause of acute hepatitis: a common energy drink in British Medical Journal – 201. See here.

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