A Potential Link Between Vaping and Seizures: An FDA Investigation
Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they were investigating a possible link between seizures and the use of electronic cigarettes, often shortened to e-cigarettes. For those who might not know, the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise across all age ranges. Unfortunately, the problem is even pervasive among children, as vaping tools are easily spread across school campuses. According to information that has been published by Drug Abuse:
- Teenagers are far more likely to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes, as many teens think that e-cigarettes are “safer” than traditional cigarettes
- Close to 10 percent of children in 8th grade reported having used e-cigarettes in the past
- This number rises to 14 percent by 10th grade and 16 percent by 12th grade
- For comparison, just over 11 percent of children in 12th grade reported using traditional cigarettes
- Boys are twice as likely as girls to use e-cigarettes
These statistics are shocking. Parents, as well as children, should note the prevalence of e-cigarettes across all age ranges. The research around e-cigarettes is still young and serious health problems could be discovered as a result of future research. Unfortunately, there is a clear link between e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes. According to more information published on Drug Abuse, about a third of those who use e-cigarettes also start using regular cigarettes within 6 months of starting e-cigarette use. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only danger of using e-cigarettes. There could be a link between vaping and seizures that is being investigated by the FDA.
Reported Seizures After the Use of E-Cigarettes
Based on a report that was recently published by the Associated Press, the FDA is taking a close look at close to three dozen cases of seizures that occurred in individuals who had recently used e-cigarettes. These reports are mostly in young adults and, because of the number and the timing of the cases, the FDA is concerned that there could be a link that needs to be investigated. All of these reports have been filed in the past 10 years, and these cases were reported to regulatory authorities such as a poison control center or the FDA itself. Because reporting is voluntary, many safety issues are often overlooked. There could be other cases of seizures after vaping that did not get reported to the FDA which is why the FDA is investigating. The FDA also noted that there was a slight increase in the rate of reporting in 2018. This could be because more people were using e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2010, potentially leading to an increase in the number of seizures. All of this information still needs to be investigated thoroughly by the FDA before any definitive conclusions can be drawn; however, the health effects of seizures can be severe.
The Health Effects of Seizures
Like many other health issues, the medical consequences of seizures depends on a number of different factors. Seizures have the potential to be serious and have severe, life-altering consequences due to neurological damage that is similar to that of a traumatic brain injury. Some of the important factors that determine the severity of the seizure include:
- How long the seizure lasts
- The part (or parts) of the brain involved
- How frequently the seizures happen
- The age of the individual
- The individual’s overall health
Furthermore, an often overlooked complication of seizures is the traumatic injuries that someone could sustain. When an individual has a seizure, they lose voluntary control over their body. Some people even lose consciousness during a seizure. This can lead to major injuries such as:
Finally, people should always remember that anyone who has a seizure requires medical care. While many seizures will stop on their own, others will not. Seizures that last for several minutes are termed “status epilepticus.” This is a medical emergency that requires the attention of a trained medical provider. Some individuals require large doses of medications to stop the seizures and preserve their brain tissue. If the seizure does not stop, this will cause neurons in the brain to die. Unlike injuries to other organs, the neurons of the brain do not regenerate. This could lead to permanent brain damage and even death.
Nicotine, Vaping, and Smoking: A Lack of Regulation
Electronic cigarettes function using an electronic device that warms up a flavored liquid to the point of vaporization. This vapor can then be inhaled. Many flavored liquids contain nicotine which is the same chemical contained in tobacco and traditional cigarettes. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Because of the perception that vaping is safer than regular smoking (which might not be true), the growth of the e-cigarette industry has been rapid. Unfortunately, because the e-cigarette industry is still very young, there aren’t very many regulations when it comes to the amount of nicotine contained in these solutions. Therefore, some of the liquids can contain dangerously high levels of nicotine. Because of this, some people might use e-cigarettes without an accurate knowledge of the amount of nicotine contained in their solution. This can lead to serious health consequences.
The Dangers of Nicotine Poisoning
Nicotine is the substance that gets smokers addicted to cigarettes, and it can do the same thing to those who vape. It is found in the leaves of the tobacco plants and is present in all tobacco products, including smokeless products. Nicotine poisoning occurs when someone ingests too much of this dangerous chemical. The amount of nicotine requires to poison someone will depend on how the nicotine is delivered to the body and the size of the person. While it would be hard for someone to overdose on nicotine from cigarettes, the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes is not regulated. This makes it easier for someone to overdose. Furthermore, the amount of nicotine required for a child to develop nicotine poisoning is far less than that of an adult. Finally, these e-liquids often come in attractive packages that can confuse children. Kids might drink these bottles without knowing what’s truly inside. Some of the symptoms of nicotine poisoning include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Breathing quickly
- A high heart rate
- Falling blood pressure
- Confusion and delirium
- Slow reflexes
One of the marquee symptoms of nicotine poisoning is seizures, which might not show up until an hour or more after the ingestion of nicotine. Prior research studies have shown that those who ingest nicotine have higher levels of brain activity, which could predispose the individual to seizures. The FDA has also warned of the dangers of nicotine poisoning in the past, particularly with its impact on children. Those who have suspicions of a friend or family member developing seizures after the use of e-cigarettes should report this information to the FDA. Some of the information that could be helpful to the FDA include:
- The age of the individual
- The make and model of the vaping liquid and delivery device
- Whether or not the person takes other medications or has a past history of seizures
For the vaping industry, this investigation into possible seizure links is only the latest in a long line of problems with the device.
The Many Issues with Vaping and E-Cigarettes
To nobody’s surprise, the e-cigarette industry has already pushed back against the investigation that the FDA is conducting. The vaping industry is making the claim that the investigation is based on a few, scattered reports of seizures without any clear link among them. Unfortunately, the reports of seizures related to possible nicotine poisoning from vaping are not the first issue raised with e-cigarettes. The industry has been the focus of prior product liability issues. Some of the other problems related to vaping and e-cigarettes include:
- Batteries that have overheated and subsequently exploded, leading to possible catastrophic injuries
- Serious burn injuries related to high heating temperatures
- Wrongful deaths related to burns, explosions, and overdoses
Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, it is important that the amount of nicotine in the vaping devices is regulated closely. Furthermore, these devices need to be harder for children to access. The rate of vaping and e-cigarette use among school-aged children is shocking, the flavors are enticing, and the packaging is marketed to them. The flavors range from watermelon to strawberry and even bubblegum. More needs to be done to protect families from the dangers of these devices. Where can families turn for assistance during their time of need?
Reaching out to a Personal Injury Attorney
When a loved one suffers a serious injury or illness, this can create a lot of stress for a family. There are numerous questions about the circumstances surrounding the illness and the concerns about the uncertain future. For help managing this stress, families should speak with a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. Some of the resources that an experienced injury attorney may provide include:
- An objective professional who can help families make decisions during an emotionally stressful time
- Help in seeking damages that could be related to a faulty product or device, any injuries or illnesses that resulted, and even pain and suffering
- Assistance in speaking with financial institutions that can help families maximize the payout of their benefits
- Moving a case to trial when needed
Most importantly, no family should ever feel obligated to face this difficult situation alone. During such a challenging time, everyone should have access to help. Meet with a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. You and your loved ones might be owed a significant financial sum.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. There are numerous health consequences associated with vaping, and one of them could be seizures. If your child or a family member has suffered severe injuries or illnesses as a result of e-cigarette use, please give me a call today using (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 and receive free, friendly legal advice.
My guests are always welcome to read over our verdicts or settlements.
Photo Attribution: The image that was placed at the top of this page was located first on Pixabay. It has been used on this page with the permission of the Creative Commons License.
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