While it’s true that soda isn’t the best beverage for you, no one expects to end up in the hospital after drinking one. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to a 22-year-old Chinese man who guzzled a liter and a half of Coke in 10 minutes. Six hours later, the unnamed cola fan arrived at Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for severe pain and a swollen belly. He told doctors that he drank 1.5 liters of the soda to help him cool off from the hot weather.
It wasn’t any of the ingredients in the soda that were causing the man pain. Rather, doctors speculated that it was the rate of consumption that caused an adverse reaction in his body. Because he consumed so much Coke so quickly, there was a build-up of gas in his body that was creating alarming effects. Already, the man had an elevated heart rate, low blood pressure, and was breathing rapidly. After a few initial tests and a CT scan, the medical team found that he had pneumatosis. This meant that he had an abnormal presence of gas in his intestinal wall and portal vein.
The excess presence of gas caused hepatic ischemia in which vital organs are deprived of oxygen. For this Coke drinker, his liver was quickly losing function from the loss of oxygen. In order to prevent any further deterioration, doctors attempted to relieve his abdomen of the gas build-up. They also administered a medication that would help protect his liver. However, after just twelve hours of treatment, medical teams noticed that the man’s liver had significant damage. His condition continued to worsen until, 18 hours after he came to the hospital, he passed away.
Doctor Doubts that Coke Was the Sole Cause of Hepatic Ischemia Patient’s Death
While it might appear that Coke was the cause of the man’s death, biochemist Nathan Davies says otherwise.
“The chances of downing 1.5 litres, or a little over three pints, of a regular soft drink being fatal would be very, very unlikely, I mean, staggeringly unlikely,” the University College London biochemist explained.
Instead, Davies suspected that the patient had an underlying condition prior to drinking the liter and a half of Coke, namely, a bacterial infection.
“Usually this type of condition is caused because you have bacteria that has made its way from the normal gastrointestinal tract to somewhere they are not supposed to be, in this case, in the lining of the small intestine,” he told Daily Mail.
Davies explained that it’s possible that the Coke exacerbated the existing condition, though even this connection was unlikely. Rather, the biochemist believes that the soda actually had very little to do with the man’s death at all.
“A couple of soft drinks a day has no health consequences other than the amount of sugar you are consuming,” Davies said.