Many of us depend on coffee, energy drinks, or other caffeinated beverages and substances to help pick us up in the mornings. But for those who work or play outdoors, beware of energy drinks. Read on to find out how energy drinks and caffeine can pose a danger to your health, particularly in the summer months.

“Drinking these sugary concoctions potentially raises the risk of heat illness,” said Jason Seals, CTEH’s health and safety supervisor. “That’s because drinking highly caffeinated beverages can promote dehydration.”

The reason for this is that many caffeinated drinks, particularly coffee and tea, are also diuretics, meaning they encourage the body to lose fluids. This increases the amount of hydration you need, and that can be exacerbated when summer heat causes excess sweating.

Energy drinks can add more risks to the pile, too. “They can cause insomnia, nervousness, headaches, nausea, anxiety, heart attack, or stroke,” said Seals. “These health issues can put workers at an increased risk of being involved in an accident. Also, workers sometimes combine these beverages with poor diet, alcohol abuse, tobacco, and obesity, drastically increasing the negative effects on their health.”

It’s important to note how much caffeine various beverages include as well. For example, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a 16-ounce energy drink could contain up to 240 milligrams. “Energy drinks may also contain other ingredients like guarana, sugars, taurine, ginseng, B vitamins, glucuronolactone, yohimbe, carnitine, and bitter orange,” Seals said. “Many of these also add to the caffeine content.”

Rather than depending on excess energy drinks and caffeinated beverages to keep energy levels up, Seals suggests making long-term lifestyle changes if possible. “That could mean improving the nutritional quality of your diet, getting regular exercise, or maintaining a healthy sleep schedule,” he said. “These are all ways to prevent chronic fatigue and lessen the urge to reach for that mid-day energy boost, especially when on the job and subject to strenuous work and heat stress conditions.”

Is your workplace as safe as it could be? Click here to learn more about CTEH’s safety services.