What Are the Long-Term Effects of Energy Drinks?

Energy drinks have become a staple of long revision sessions and are consumed by millions of people worldwide over the last 30 years. Often costing as much as coffee, energy drinks provide a way to get caffeine and sugar, for those who might not like coffee. With a seemingly infinite number of flavors and variations, it’s not always easy to know what is in the can. The vast array of ingredients placed into energy drinks can make it difficult to judge what side effects are related to the drinks’ caffeine content, alone.

Are Energy Drinks Bad For You?

Energy drinks and their safety has become a growing issue as consumption continues to increase among young children and teenagers. Asides from the jitters and insomnia, what are the long-term effects of energy drinks?

What the research found

Multiple researchers have been attempting to answer the question of how energy drinks affect the body in both the short and long terms. The Journal of the American Heart Association published a small study. They found that consuming 32 ounces (946 milliliters) or two cans of Monster Energy in under an hour can increase the heart’s risk of electrical disturbances. The increased risk can last as long as four hours after consumption. The study only looked at healthy participants and didn’t account for long-term effects. Despite these factors, the lead researcher, Sachin A. Shah, warned that the public ought to be aware of the impact energy drinks may have on the body.

Energy Drinks Side Effects

Researchers in Australia carried out seven years of data gathering from a poison control hotline. They found that overdoing it on the energy drinks can lead to specific side-effects.

Side effects of energy drinks – from most common to least common, include:

  • Palpitations (heart skipping a beat or adds an extra beat)
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Upset stomach
  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling or numbness in the skin
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headaches

Side effects from specific ingredients in energy drinks


Caffeine is the most common ingredient across all energy drinks. Everybody has a different tolerance level to caffeine, but most people should avoid having more than 400mg of caffeine in 24 hours. When drinking more than 400mg, restlessness, increased heart rate and insomnia are the most common symptoms.


Sugar is a recurring ingredient in most non-diet energy drinks. Consuming large amounts of sugar can lead to obesity, tooth decay, increased risk of Type-2 diabetes and insulin spikes.


Taurine is present in a large number of energy drinks. There are no documented side effects of taurine yet, although some countries have banned energy drinks with a high taurine content. Some researchers believe that levels of taurine are too low to cause any side effects.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a herb, known to cause some minor side effects in certain people. (4) These side effects include nausea, upset stomach, headaches, dizziness, restlessness and heart palpitations. Ginkgo can interact with medications like anti-depressants and blood thinners.

In summary

Something worth bearing in mind is that government food safety agencies in the UK, the EU, and the USA recognise energy drinks as safe for human consumption. (5) More research needs to be carried out, with larger study group sizes, before we can say how they will affect people long-term. From what little data exists, it’s clear that when consumed in moderation, energy drinks are not likely to harm you if you are not pregnant and are above the age of 18. However, consuming more than recommended can increase the risk of heart complications, especially in those who already suffer from one or more heart problems.

As always, it is best to practice moderation when consuming energy drinks or any other source of caffeine. If you have any pre-existing heart conditions, you should do your best to avoid energy drinks.


  1. Seifert, S.M., Schaechter, J.L., Hershorin, E.R. and Lipshultz, S.E. (2011). Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. PEDIATRICS, [online] 127(3), pp.511–528. Available at: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/3/511.short [Accessed 9 Feb. 2021].
  2. ‌American Heart Association. (2019). Energy drinks may increase risk of heart function abnormalities and blood pressure changes. [online] Available at: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/energy-drinks-may-increase-risk-of-heart-function-abnormalities-and-blood-pressure-changes?preview=c46b [Accessed 9 Feb. 2021].
  3. Gunja, N. and Brown, J.A. (2012). Energy drinks: health risks and toxicity. Medical Journal of Australia, [online] 196(1), pp.46–49. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/196/1/energy-drinks-health-risks-and-toxicity [Accessed 9 Feb. 2021].
  4. Biloba, G. (2013). Essential Tremor (ET) Herbal remedies: adverse effects & drug interactions. [online] Available at: http://www.essentialtremor.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Adverse-effects-drug-interactions-of-herbal-remedies.pdf [Accessed 9 Feb. 2021].
  5. Nicole Lyn Pesce (2019). Energy drinks may be linked to frightening side effects for your heart. [online] MarketWatch. Available at: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/energy-drinks-may-be-linked-to-frightening-side-effects-for-your-heart-2019-05-29#:~:text=A%202017%20Frontiers%20in%20Public,problems%2C%20obesity%20and%20kidney%20damage. [Accessed 9 Feb. 2021].

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