Earlier this month, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a case study about a 50-year-old Florida construction worker who developed chronic hepatitis after excessive energy drink consumption. The man originally thought he was experiencing flu-like symptoms, including nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting. However, when his urine turned dark and his skin began to turn yellow, he visited the emergency room. The report noted that the man was in good health prior to falling ill and he did not drink, smoke cigarettes or consume illicit drugs. He also had no family history of liver disease.

The only unusual condition the hospital noted was that the man drank four or five energy drinks a day for roughly three weeks before he was hospitalized. Lab tests revealed that the man had chronic hepatitis C, or HCV. Researchers, noted however, that the virus was not the cause of acute hepatitis.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes the liver to become inflamed. In roughly 80 percent of cases, the onset of the infection develops into chronic HCV. It can ultimately cause scarring and liver cancer and is generally spread through the blood or body fluids.

After only two weeks, the man’s blood had HCV antibodies, which generally do not appear until about 10 weeks after exposure. It is extremely unusual that the virus would develop from acute to chronic that quickly, leading the hospital to determine that the energy drinks played a significant role.

Excessive Doses of Ingredients

Energy drinks are known for their high levels of caffeine, which have been associated with heart problems, seizures and high blood pressure. However, their large quantities of natural ingredients are often overlooked despite their ability to cause great harm.  It is not just the caffeine that is dangerous, it is the synergistic effect of the caffeine with other chemicals in energy drinks such as Taurine, Guarana, Inositol and Pyridoxine.

According to the report, each bottle of the unnamed energy drinks the man consumed had 40 mg of vitamin B3, or niacin, which is 200 percent above the recommended daily value. The man consumed up to five bottles a day for 21 days.

Although there are several other ingredients in the drink that can also lead to toxicity overdose, the report noted that only niacin causes liver damage. After three days of hospitalization without consuming any energy drinks, the man’s symptoms were resolved and he was sent home.

Although a niacin overdose is extremely rare, this is the second case in which an otherwise healthy adult developed acute hepatitis after consuming an excessive amount of energy drinks. The other patient was a 22-year-old woman who developed the condition in 2011 after drinking 10 energy drinks a day for two weeks.

If you or a loved one has suffered from liver problems that may be associated with energy drinks, contact the energy drink lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan. You may be entitled to compensation.