Some Supplements Can Send You to the ER
Many of us rely on supplements to get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need, to help us stay awake, or to lose weight.
Most of these supplements tell us their potential benefits, but almost none lists their possible harmful effects.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that some 23,000 people end up in the emergency room each year due to incorrect use or adverse effects from supplements.
What Are Dietary Supplements
Experts define dietary supplements as any herbal, vitamin, or amino acid micronutrient compound. These products can be helpful as complements to your diet to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs to function correctly. In addition, some of these products aim to prevent or correct certain conditions and elevate energy levels.
The main problem with dietary supplements is that although the FDA oversees them, they do not undergo safety testing before becoming available to the public since these supplements are not drugs.
Additionally, dietary supplement manufacturers are not required to list the potential adverse effects of their products on their labels. The lack of information on these products can contribute to the misuse or overuse of these supplements and cause serious side effects.
4 Supplements Most Likely to Send You to the ER
Although any supplement can cause severe adverse effects, these are the four types that are most likely to send you to the emergency room.
Weight Loss Supplements
Weight loss supplements are widely used in the United States. However, their misuse and dangerous side effects account for about one-quarter of all supplement-related ER visits.
More than half of patients are women, and the average age of patients is 32 years. Close to 10% of patients require hospitalization, and patients over 65 are more likely to be hospitalized.
Weight loss supplements promise to help you lose weight through one or more of the following mechanisms:
- Speed up your metabolism, so you burn more calories per day
- Slow down fat production or absorption
- Suppress your appetite
You can quickly get into trouble if you take these supplements outside of a doctor’s supervision or by combining different weight loss supplements aimed at speeding up your metabolism.
If you took a weight loss supplement and experience any of the following, please head to the nearest ER:
- Accelerated heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Altered or agitated state of mind
- Rectal bleeding
Some ingredients in weight loss supplements can cause liver or kidney damage. So, please refrain from using these unless a doctor prescribes them.
Sexual Enhancement Supplements
Men can experience adverse side effects from herbal products advertised for sexual enhancement.
Many of these supplements contain potentially dangerous hidden ingredients that can put your health at risk.
If you are taking any sexual enhancement supplements, we recommend you visit the FDA tainted product database to determine if your brand is listed as a potentially dangerous supplement.
Make sure always to check the label and do research on any body-building products. These can contain steroids or steroid-like substances linked to severe health risks, including liver damage, which can be life-threatening.
If you are looking for a quick pick-me-up to feel more alert or energized, you better think twice about taking an energy drink.
Energy-boosting products, including energy drinks, account for about 10% of all supplement-related ER visits.
Many of these drinks have ingredients that can cause adverse biological effects, making them unsafe. The toxicity of these drinks is often due to high amounts of caffeine or the combination of caffeine with sugar and other stimulating ingredients.
One study found that overconsumption of energy drinks can alter the heart’s electrical activity resulting in arrhythmia and high blood pressure. In addition, some ingredients found in energy drinks can cause thickening of the blood in the coronary arteries, leading to cardiac arrest.
At Altus Emergency Centers we are always available to treat any emergency.
However, our treatment options are limited when it comes to toxicity due to dietary supplements. We can administer medications to reduce the stress on the heart and intravenous fluids to aid with hydration. Still, we may not be able to prevent long-lasting damage to any of your organs.
For this reason, please read the list of ingredients of any supplement you are taking. Also, please speak to a doctor before taking any supplement to ensure it is safe and won’t interact with any prescribed medications.