The dangers of consuming too much caffeine

Many people consume it daily, but too much of it can be deadly.

Just this week, officials announced a South Carolina teen’s death was caused by a caffeine overdose, after his heart “fell out of rhythm.”

“An energy drink can have 150-300 milligrams of caffeine,” said Novant Health Sports Medicine Medical Director Dr. Eric Warren.

Some may be sugar free, even calorie free - but they’re certainly not caffeine free.

“That could be the entire days allotment of caffeine in one drink,” said Dr. Warren.

A recent study showed one-third of teens regularly consume energy drinks.

“People have to realize caffeine is a chemical stimulant,” said Dr. Warren.  “And those affect our bodies-- so if we take too much in, our bodies will respond in ways that can be life-threatening."

The 16-year-old had consumed a large Diet Mountain Dew, a latte and an energy drink before his heart fell out of rhythm.

"There are at least 20 published deaths of people ingesting too much caffeine,” said Dr. Warren.  “But more often, we see someone come into the office with palpitations-- a faster heart rate-- and we find out they're drinking too much caffeine."

"It's crazy,” said Parent Jesse McGaha.

“I work at the airport and people are pulling doubles-- working 15-16 hours a day-- and they keep the vending machine stocked with energy drinks and people drink them all the time.”

McGaha tries to set a good example for his kids by limiting the number of caffeinated beverages he consumes.

“I try not to drink more than two,” he said.

This recent incident - an eye opener for parents.

"People need to be careful,” said McGaha.  “Stay away from energy drinks-- they're bad for you."

Dr. Warren says impacts of caffeine can of course vary from person to person.  Some reports say up to 400 milligrams can be consumed daily.