Apr 04, 2019 07:21 AM EDT
Vaping-or the use of e-cigarettes-a worldwide phenomenon, has become the smokers' healthy alternative to actually smoking. As recent studies have shown, vaping isn't nearly as dangerous as traditional tobacco smoke-or is it?
The Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating nearly three dozen cases of people suffering from seizures after vaping, the agency announced Wednesday. Between 2010 and 2019, the FDA said it received 35 reports of people, especially kids and young adults, experiencing seizures after using e-cigarettes. However, the FDA said it's unclear whether e-cigarettes caused the seizures.
"While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases," outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement.
The FDA said several factors may lead to seizures, such as some e-cigarette designs allowing people to get huge amounts of nicotine quickly or some people deliberately inhaling more nicotine than normal. They also stated that the seizures may have been triggered by something else, like an underlying medical condition or another substance.
We know that nicotine poisoning can cause seizures, like when people swallow vape juice. But the FDA doesn't know yet what the relationship between seizures and vaping is here, says Gottlieb. Some of these seizures might not be connected, or some might be caused by inhaling massive amounts of nicotine. That seems less plausible, says Peter Chai, a medical toxicologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "I think exposure-skin contact or oral-in children, or vaping exposure in younger individuals, adolescents through which we've seen a large increase in e-cig use, might be accounting for the increase in these seizures," he says.
Gottlieb and Abernethy expressed that this information is merely a warning and is meant to bring awareness to a possible medical problem associated with vaping. "We're sharing this early information with the public because as a public health agency, it's our job to communicate about potential safety concerns associated with the products we regulate that are under scientific investigation by the agency," They said in a statement.
The FDA suspects that the case count of 35 is an underestimate, given that people submit these reports voluntarily. But Chai expects that now that this potential link is out there, the FDA will get even more reports. The agency asks that people report health and safety issues with vaping to their Safety Reporting Portal, and list details including the manufacturer and brand of e-cigarette that they're using, as well as where they bought it.
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