She drank six large cans of Red Bull a day... now 26-stone mum Lena's brain has swollen and she could end up blind
A mother-of-three from Newtownabbey fears she could go blind because of her addiction to the Red Bull energy drink.
Lena Lupari (26) consumed an astonishing six large cans of the caffeine-laced drink every day for years until she virtually collapsed two months ago and was admitted to hospital for six days.
She said she had suffered from severe headaches for a number of years but paid little heed to them, instead using simple painkillers to get through the day.
But the single mum was really suffering from idiopathic intracranial hypertension - essentially severe high pressure within the skull that affected her optic nerves - which can be brought on by being overweight.
Lena's consumption of Red Bull meant she was ingesting at least 3,000 calories every day.
Her love of the product was so intense, she was spending around a quarter of her monthly income from benefits - a reported £450 out of £1,800 - on buying it.
She said that looking after her three young children - one of whom has special needs - kept her so busy that she did not have time to cook for herself during the day, instead drinking vast quantities of Red Bull and then eating a fast-food takeaway or packet of pasta as her main meal in the evenings.
After her health scare in June, Lena stopped drinking Red Bull and lost two stone, but doctors told her she needs to lose another five if she hopes to keep the symptoms at bay.
Lena does not want to have a gastric band fitted or have any kind of surgery to help her lose further weight.
Instead, she is hoping that the NHS will offer her support.
"I think they should offer help to someone with this problem to motivate them into losing weight, something like a boot camp," she said.
Lena, who uses the Twitter handle @crazymummy88xx, added that losing weight would not make her condition disappear for ever, but it would mean that she would not have to go through surgery.
An ordinary 250ml can of Red Bull contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, and the product website recommends that people should not drink more than the equivalent of five cans a day.
In one health study, caffeine in coffee was suggested to have a potential link to the devastating eye condition glaucoma.
The American researchers said that compounds found within the drink could cause increased pressure within the eyeball, leading to exfoliation glaucoma, a condition that destroys vision.
Scientists have also warned that Red Bull consumption can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.