Many people rely on a little caffeine pick-me-up every now and then, whether it’s a cup of coffee to start the morning or a soda with lunch to power through the afternoon. The problem with caffeine, though, is that it’s not good for you—and it’s easy to consume too much of it these days.

That’s not to say that a small amount of caffeine every once in a while is necessarily going to hurt you. Yet it’s important to remember that caffeine is classified as a drug—since it affects your central nervous system—and like many other drugs, it can be extremely dangerous if not controlled.

Sixteen-year-old Lanna Hamann sadly learned that firsthand. The girl was enjoying a vacation in Mexico when she told a friend’s parent that she suddenly didn’t feel so well. Minutes later, the unthinkable happened…

Lanna Hamann, a 16-year-old high school softball star and honor student, was spending her vacation on a beach resort in Mexico with a friend’s family. She was having the absolute time of her life.

Unfortunately, things quickly soon took a turn for the worst—and it all had to do with what the teenage girl was drinking. Since the tap water in Mexico isn’t very reliable, many tourists opt for other beverages, like soft drinks…

Ben Franske / Wikimedia Commons

Lanna, however, wasn’t drinking regular soft drinks or even commercial bottled water. Instead, she downed energy drink after energy drink—and reportedly nothing else. That may sound unhealthy, but it didn’t make what happened next any less shocking…

Despite being so young and athletic, the otherwise healthy girl had a heart attack. she did not survive. The immense levels of caffeine that she had been consuming during her trip was simply too much for her body to handle.

This was undeniably a tragic story, but it shined a light on a problem that many people might not be aware of. If there’s any good that can come out of this, it would be that people learn to be careful about their caffeine intake. So, why is caffeine so deadly?

It may not necessarily be as powerful, dangerous, or stigmatized as other drugs like alcohol and nicotine, but the fact remains that caffeine is indeed a drug, and as with any other drug, too much of it can literally kill people.

More specifically, caffeine is a stimulant, with similar physical properties and effects as illicit drugs like amphetamines and cocaine. Part of the reason that it perks people up and gives them more energy is because it directly affects the central nervous system.

Caffeine can be found in a number of different popular products, especially beverages like coffee, tea, and soda. More recent years, however, have seen a rise in the popularity of energy drinks like Rockstar, Monster, and Red Bull.

Austin Kirk / Flickr

These beverages can contain as much caffeine as the equivalent of four cups of coffee each. One could only imagine what drinking energy drink after energy drink—without any hydrating water—could do to even the healthiest bodies.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

None of this is to say that drinking a little bit of caffeine every day, like your morning coffee or even the occasional energy drink, is necessarily a death sentence. Yet to really understand the dangers at hand, you’re definitely going to want to hear Lanna’s story…

How devastating. Everyone needs to pay closer attention to the kinds of things we put in our bodies because tragedies like this are so preventable!

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