Does Vaping Cause Seizures?
You may have heard it circulating recently that vaping, or specifically the JUUL itself, can cause seizures.
This all started when the FDA decided to investigate the recent rise in the number of supposedly vape-related seizure reports.
Of course, the media jumped all over this because to them, anything against vaping and JUUL specifically, are like Mango JUUL Pods to us JUULers. They can’t help but exaggerate any claims that may shine a bad light on the JUUL. As the media tends to do.
In an attempt to cut through some of the BS, I’m writing this post that takes a logical look at this supposed threat, and how worried you really need to be about it.
What are Seizures?
First of all, it would do us a little good to gain a general understanding of what seizures are in the first place, and what causes them.
I’ll be pulling most of this very interesting information from this article from Mayo Clinic. So if you want more in-depth info, I encourage you to check it out.
According to their definition, “a seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness.”
There are MANY different types of seizures other than the one we all hold a picture of in our mind. You know, someone shaking uncontrollably on the floor. These actually happen to be the most severe form of seizure and the lightest form could simply be someone staring off into space for a minute without responding or even just having a sudden change in emotions, or other senses. (taste, touch, smell, etc)
After reading this article I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that MANY people have had a minor seizure at some time without even realizing it.
What Causes Seizures?
If you have multiple seizures within a day, or another short period of time then you will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Epileptic seizures are caused by the condition itself, but you don’t need to have epilepsy to have a seizure.
Just read this paragraph from the Mayo Clinic article:
“Seizures are more common than you might think. Seizures can happen after a stroke, a closed head injury, an infection such as meningitis or another illness. Many times, though, the cause of a seizure is unknown.“
In addition to this, they give a list of some other potential common causes of seizures:
- High fever, which can be associated with an infection such as meningitis
- Lack of sleep
- Low blood sodium (hyponatremia), which can happen with diuretic therapy
- Medications, such as certain pain relievers, antidepressants or smoking cessation therapies, that lower the seizure threshold
- Head trauma that causes an area of bleeding in the brain
- Brain tumor
- Illegal or recreational drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine
- Alcohol abuse, during times of withdrawal or extreme intoxication
As you can see, there are quite a few different KNOWN causes, and probably WAY MORE unknown causes of seizures. Essentially, anyone can have a seizure, at any time, for nearly any reason.
They are sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain, and the brain is quite a complex and sensitive device you know.
Now, I’m in no way saying that vaping high concentrations of nicotine doesn’t increase your risk of having a seizure, but I wanted to make it clear that each and every one of these supposed “seizures due to vaping a JUUL” could very easily have been coincidentally caused by a number of other sources.
Especially when you consider the number of people that vape without having seizures to those that vape and have had seizures.
So, How Likely is Vaping to Cause Seizures?
Again, going back to the statistics, from 2010 to the present, the FDA has gotten 35 reports of seizures that MENTIONED e-cigarette use. Since there are approximately 11 million people vaping in the U.S., that gives us a .0000032 percent chance of having a vaping induced seizure.
There are commonly prescribed medications that have a MUCH higher percentage chance than this to cause seizures, including one that is often used to help people QUIT smoking and vaping: bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban).
I’d also like to point out at this point that the FDA clearly states that they are unsure whether these cases are directly related to e-cigarette use or not. They are investigating it just in case, but they still really have no idea.
There are some other interestingly questionable facts about these seizure reports brought up in this article from the FDA such as:
- 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 seizures 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.
These extra bits of information seem to suggest that these seizure reports definitely could have been caused by something else, with vape use coincidentally occurring at or around the same time.
I do personally believe that if there is something to this, that teens and young adults would be more susceptible to it, due to developing brains and lower overall body mass.
So let’s look at what specifically could be causing seizures in vapes.
1. Does Vaping Cause Seizures?: Nicotine
Consuming nicotine (like consuming nearly any psychoactive drug) does increase your chance of having a seizure. (slightly)
It has also been found that nicotine toxicity, or overdose, can cause a seizure. (Again, like most other drugs)
This can be caused by cigarettes, vapes, or even nicotine replacement products such as nicotine patches and gums. What matters is the amount of nicotine consumed, not the specific route of administration.
Now, although this is true, where newer pod vapes like the JUUL may be slightly more likely to result in nicotine toxicity is in their very high concentration.
So teenagers, with undeveloped brains and lower body masses, can get a large amount of nicotine in a very short amount of time using a JUUL which could be resulting in some of these reported seizures.
2. Does Vaping Cause Seizures?: Flavorings
Although nicotine has been studied quite a bit, there are other chemicals lurking in e-juice that have been studied much less, especially in terms of what happens when inhaling these substances rather than simply ingesting them:
There are countless different flavoring agents used in e-juices to make them taste like nearly anything you could think of. From birthday cake to fresh apple pie to straight up tobacco.
Many of these flavorings have been used in processed foods for quite some time and have been found to be safe. But what happens when you start inhaling these substances rather than eating them?
We’ve yet to find out. Some studies are beginning to pop up as vaping becomes more and more mainstream, but we’re a long ways away from having any definite answers.
So once again, yes, consuming these substances could increase your chances of having a seizure, but by how much? Most likely a very, VERY small amount.
These chemicals’ potential to cause cancer is probably something worth much more of your attention and worry.
So Why is Everyone so Worried?: Media
There is a bigger lesson to be learned here rather than just “does vaping cause seizures”. And that is the effect of the Media and what is the most readily accessible to your mind.
If nicotine and virtually all drugs have always increased your chances of having a seizure, why are you just hearing about it now?
As I mentioned earlier, as soon as word got out about the FDA’s investigation into these seizure reports, the media jumped all over it. It was just one more piece of ammunition to use against vaping and to fuel the fire of arguments and contention.
This is exactly what the media wants. They want people to fight over things. To get heated and create imaginary issues because it gets them talking, and coming back to the news source they originally heard it from for more.
In all my time vaping and researching, you know what you should be most concerned about when it comes to vaping?:
- Cardiovascular health (Heart and Lungs)
Seizures aren’t even on my radar, and that’s because I don’t buy into the nonsense that news sources feed people. In fact, I don’t WATCH ANY NEWS. If I did, I certainly would never take what they say at face value as if its raw truth. Because 90% of the time it’s anything but.
Now, this isn’t to say that ALL news sources are evil and bad (just most of them 😉) but more to point out that you should always question everything and do your own research, even if you do use more reputable sources.
Do research. Question everything. And don’t argue just for the sake of it.
That is all.
Sure. Just as often as watching a video with flashing lights or just having that one cigarette when you’re out drinking with your buddies.
Does knowing that the viral video everyone is talking about could give you a seizure keep you from watching it? I’m going to guess it doesn’t.
So yes, it’s possible that vaping could give some people a seizure, but is it anywhere near likely enough to worry about? Absolutely not.
Once again, I think the most important message here is for us to be aware of the power that society and pop culture can have on our own thoughts and opinions.
We are all more connected than we ever have been. Don’t let that connectedness get the better of you and don’t be a part of the problem that spreads misinformation without knowing the facts.
Nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be.
Have a great day, I’ll see you soon!
Have I alleviated some of your worries about vaping causing seizures? Where you surprised to learn just how much power the media can have on us? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!