What you need to know about this ongoing investigation.
On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that its officials are working with state health authorities to examine a growing number of pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette use. But it's not the only federal agency actively investigating vaping-related health issues.
Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has continued to look into a potential link between vaping and seizures. As of Aug. 7, the agency has received 127 reports of seizure or other neurological symptoms, such as fainting or tremors, that occurred after vaping between 2010 and 2019. That's 92 additional cases since April 3, 2019, when the FDA issued its first statement, alerting people to the potential link.
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"Although we still don't have enough information to determine if e-cigarettes are causing these reported incidents, we believe it's critical to keep the public updated on the information we've received based on the agency's initial request for reports earlier this year," Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in the latest statement.
More than 100 cases over nine years isn't a lot -- especially compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes -- but the FDA believes cases may have gone unreported and that the potential issue warrants a scientific investigation regardless.
There's certainly a sound basis for concern: Seizures are a known potential side effect of nicotine poisoning and there have been case studies showing that people who accidentally or intentionally swallow e-liquids that contain nicotine experience seizures or seizure-like movements.
While vaporizer cartridges contain varying levels of nicotine, some e-cigarettes design features can make it easy for a user to consume high levels of nicotine quickly. For instance, Juul Labs' Juulpods contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes and the company claims its nicotine salt formulation is as easy to inhale as cigarettes and delivers nicotine up to 2.7 times faster than other e-cigarettes. Packaging can also be misleading: One study found that some e-liquids contained up to 52% more nicotine than stated.
Proving a direct connection between vaping and seizures, however, has proven difficult. The reports the FDA has received haven't provided enough detail to establish a clear pattern or cause, according to the FDA's first statement:
"Seizures have been reported among first-time e-cigarette users and experienced users. In a few situations, e-cigarette users reported a prior history of seizure diagnosis. A few reported cases indicated that the seizures occurred in association with the use of other substances such as marijuana or amphetamines. Seizures have been reported as occurring after a few puffs or up to one day after use."
As the FDA continues its investigation, the agency is asking that consumers report any unexpected health or product issues experienced with e-cigarettes or any tobacco product to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.