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E-cigarettes are causing seizures in young people

April 4 , 2019

Promoters smoke electronic cigarettes during the VapeFair in Kuala Lumpur on December 5, 2015. Photo: AFP

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned people that there have been reports of e-cigarettes causing seizures.

The FDA, which has been receiving voluntary adverse experience reports about tobacco products since 1988, said that it has observed a slight but noticeable increase in reports of seizures since June 2018. Between 2010 and 2019, there have been a total of 35 reported cases of seizures mentioning the use of e-cigarettes. However, it said that the number of cases could have been a lot more due to the voluntary nature of the reported cases.

The agency said that most of the reports involved youth or young adult users. Seizures have been reported among both, first-time and experienced e-cigarette users.

In a few situations, the e-cigarette users reported a prior history of seizure diagnosis while some cases indicated seizures in association with the use of other substances such as marijuana or amphetamines.

The users reported seizures occurred after a few puffs or up to one day after use.

The FDA said that it is looking for more information about seizures following e-cigarette use to identify common risk factors and understand if any e-cigarette product attributes such as nicotine content or formulation contribute to seizures.

What are seizures?

Seizures are the results of sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Contrary to popular belief, not all seizures show full-body shaking. According to the FDA, other possible signs of seizures include a lapse in awareness or consciousness, which may look like a person is staring blankly into space for a few seconds or suddenly stops moving.

Most seizures end in a few seconds or minutes. At times, the person experiencing seizures might not even remember what happened right before the seizure.

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