The Good, the Bad, and the Shaky about Teens & Caffeine

Katy Magazine, Aug / Sept 2016 Health 

Written by Gail G. Collins and Katrina Katsarelis

Lanna Hamann, 16, was vacationing with family friends when she said she began having trouble breathing. She was taken to a local clinic but they were not able to save her. Lanna’s family and friends said she had consumed several energy drinks that day while being out in the sun. The family and a cardiologist believe energy drinks, along with dehydration, contributed to her death. While energy drink deaths are rare, too much caffeine is definitely something to avoid.

Too Much of a Good Thing

While caffeine increases mental alertness, higher doses of caffeine can cause anxiety, dizziness, headaches, and the jitters, often interfering with normal sleep cycles. Dr. Danny Le, a pediatrician with Fulshear Family Medicine advises, “For teenagers who are over 12 years old and 100 pounds, 400 mg. is considered the upper limit for caffeine intake—roughly four cups of coffee.” Caffeine stimulates the heart and overstimulation may lead to palpitations or even a heart attack.” People’s tolerances to typical consumption differ and can change over time. Additionally, de-sensitivity can create a need for higher amounts to achieve similar results.

What’s in an energy drink?

Many beverages that contain caffeine also contain large amounts of sugar, sodium and other unwelcome ingredients. “High sugar intake can lead to obesity and diabetes. Energy drinks may also contain other chemicals, which may have unknown side effects,” says Dr. Le. Further physiological symptoms, like dehydration, loss of calcium and gut motility may occur. This is especially true in developing bodies and studies are yet to determine cumulative effects.

“Caffeine is also a leading cause of anxiety and hypertension—a silent killer,” Kobermann says. “Soda and energy drinks are laced with sugars and B-vitamins and extra ingredients with dangerous long term effects for nerve health and liver function.”

Shaky Situation

Increased alertness in a crunch can be welcome, but for some, not having caffeine can cause a crash. Irritability, fatigue and headaches are possible. Though widely used, caffeine is still a drug. “The addictive properties of caffeine aren’t to be taken lightly and should be respected,” says Kobermann. He warns of the knock-on issues of substance abuse, increased depression, and developmental problems.

Parents on Alert

“As with adults, intake of caffeine for teens and preteens should be in moderation,” Dr. Le reminds. For adults, 200-300 mg per day is considered reasonable, but in children, one caffeinated beverage a day is enough. Education is vital. Beware that some specialty products can deliver whopping amounts in one dose. Consumers and parents need to know exactly what their children are drinking and talk to them about what is safe. KM

ENERGY DRINKS in the news

More than 5,000 cases of people who got sick from energy drinks were reported to U.S. poison control centers between 2010 and 2013. Almost half of those cases were in children who did not realize what they were drinking. – Huffpost Parents

Middlebury College in Vermont is banning on-campus sales of energy drinks, claiming they are linked to “problematic behavior” such as “high-risk sexual activity” and abuse of “intoxicating” substances.  – NBC News

More than 10% of emergency room visits involving energy drinks result in hospitalization.  – Washington Post

An international research team, led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, has concluded that energy drinks are the cause of many sudden cardiac deaths in young, healthy individuals. –Consumer Affairs

Bio:  Gail G. Collins writes internationally for magazines and has authored three books on life and work overseas, always learning from others.

Racing Sisters

Cy Springs High School alumni Erica Enders-Stevens and Courtney Enders Lambert are burning up the track in the world of professional racing

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endersCy-Fair sisters Erica and Courtney Enders grew up around the track watching their dad drive. Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens started Junior Drag Racing when she was 8 years old, a class of racing originally geared for 8 to 17-year-olds. Now, 25 years later, she has made a career out of it. Three years after Erica, younger sister, Courtney, joined the race team. “I fell in love with racing watching Erica, and I was her little crew chief and biggest fan,” she says. “I still am.” Continue reading “Racing Sisters”

5 QUICK FITNESS TIPS From Cy-Fair Area Fitness Professionals

Getting in shape and staying that way is a lifestyle commitment. It involves two simple elements: a desire to change and plan to achieve it.

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fitnesstipsWith so many Texans having sedentary jobs and supersized portions, it’s no wonder our waistlines are wider than ever. Here are a few expert recommendations for getting those extra pounds off.

  1. Get an Assessment

An honest assessment of capabilities, which you can receive from trainers at most gyms, will determine whether to begin with a gentle stroll, a jog, or use of an elliptical, depending on past injuries. “Try not to make dramatic changes, especially in routine or diet. Take small steps and know your boundaries, especially physical limitations,” says Matt Lofland, head trainer at Orange Theory Fitness. Continue reading “5 QUICK FITNESS TIPS From Cy-Fair Area Fitness Professionals”

A Lifetime of Service

Katyite Steve Pierson takes pride in serving the community and finds rewards in his years of volunteerism

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Whether he was taking a bite out of crime with mascot McGruff, ceremonially cutting a ribbon, aiding the Red Cross, volunteering with a community choir, selling programs for the Booster Club, hosting a cable television program, chairing the YMCA, sitting on the City Council or walking a little dog named Scoobie, Steve Pierson has dedicated his life to serving the Katy community. Over the last three decades, he has been deeply invested in bettering local life in every possible, active way. “My service in the community has been very rewarding, and I look forward to continuing,” he says. Continue reading “A Lifetime of Service”

Principal Wendy Witthaus

Creating Strong Connections Amongst Staff and Students at Hopper Middle School

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witthausWhen Hopper Middle School Principal Wendi Witthaus was a child, her mother bought a chalkboard for her as a gift because she was always teaching. Her passion would launch a 22-year career in education.

From her teaching start at Cook Middle School as an academic specialist for at-risk kids to assistant principal at the Alternative Learning Center East and opening the doors as principal of Alternative Learning Center West before arriving at Hopper, Witthaus has kept it local. Whether leading church or school classes, she says, “A natural ability to connect with children to ignite a desire for learning in students has always been there.” Continue reading “Principal Wendy Witthaus”

JASON Learning—Education through Exploration

Science Curriculum Brings Science in Real Time to Cy-Fair Classrooms

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When Paul Gignac was a student, science came into his classroom via satellite broadcasts and JASON Learning. An enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) was fostered through role models in those fields, who reached out to kids in real time. It was interactive learning at its motivating best. In fact, Gignac applied and was selected in 1997 as a JASON Project Student Argonaut in a science immersion camp. He credits those life-changing experiences as the impetus to earn advanced degrees and become a crocodile and dinosaur paleontologist. Gignac teaches the next generation of doctors at the University of Oklahoma, performs research in the lab and field, and acts as a STEM role model with JASON. Other former JASON learners, geochemist Katie Inderbitzen and oceanographer and archeologist Mike Brennan, also reach out to future STEM career-minded students as JASON role models. Continue reading “JASON Learning—Education through Exploration”

Passionate Principal Carra Fleming

Beck Junior High principal combines fun, high standards, and enthusiasm to help her students discover the joy of learning

Fall 2015

Some days when Principal Carra Fleming steps into the halls of Beck Junior High School, she had pink hair—and it suits her. Executive educators from another era sat tucked away in offices where kids visited only when they had misbehaved. Today’s principals greet kids as they enter schools, to build relationships focused on positive outcomes. Like Fleming, they join fundraising activities, whose high earners receive a blast of hair color spray. Continue reading “Passionate Principal Carra Fleming”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

After losing her son in a tragic car crash in 2006, Katy mom Carol Levin is on a mission to end drunk driving

Summer 2015

Madd-Moms-2“It’s as bad you think it is,” Carol Levin says, describing the loss of her son to a drunk driver, “but he was an amazing person, and we’ll live his life in the best way we can—we need that.” It’s why Levin got involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD).

Todd Levin was 28 years old and was planning on proposing to his girlfriend Ralynne Healey soon. The couple was returning from a sports activity and dinner out. Todd never drove under the influence, and Healey was training for the Olympics as a figure skater and didn’t drink at all. On September 25, 2006 at 10 p.m., a drunk driver shot through a red light at 85 mph in a 35 mph zone. The impact was severe. Suffering two skull fractures and a crushed chest, Todd was killed instantly. Healey died on the way to Ben Taub Hospital. The driver was nearly twice the legal limit and didn’t stop to render aid. Continue reading “Mothers Against Drunk Driving”

Martha Strother Leads Students to Success

Cy-Fair’s Windfern High School of Choice students pursue their graduation goals

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Fourteen-year veteran Principal Martha Strother inspires her students to “do whatever it takes” to overcome the odds and graduate. The kids sport wristbands with the motto, reminding them to be victorious over difficulties.

Superintendent of Schools Rick Berry’s vision for Windfern High School of Choice (WHS) grew from his son’s lackluster performance in a typical, massive high school. In 1995, WHS opened in a re-purposed administration center as a small campus school for juniors and seniors with limited class sizes and individualized education. The school is designed for, “bright, able children, whose native intelligence isn’t showing up in standard settings,” Strother says. Continue reading “Martha Strother Leads Students to Success”

The ABC’s and 123’s of Choosing Your Child’s Preschool

A Cy-Fair guide to the basics of selecting the right preschool for your family

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Children first learn about the world around them balanced on the knee of a parent, who knows the child best. With this perspective in mind, parents should seek a safe, loving, interactive preschool that ideally suits their expectations and their child’s needs.

Ask the Right Questions

Children may spend many of their best and brightest hours in preschool. In order to choose the right one, Romana Syed of Cypress Kids Learning Center suggests these questions and answers, “How are classes structured? Classrooms should be child-centered to provide a comfortable environment that tends to the needs of each individual child. Are the teachers qualified? Teachers should be Child Development Associates.” Continue reading “The ABC’s and 123’s of Choosing Your Child’s Preschool”