Background: The health effects caused by electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use are not well understood.
Objective: Our purpose was to document the positive and negative short-term health effects produced by e-cigarette use through an analysis of original posts from three online e-cigarettes forums.
Methods: Data were collected into Microsoft Access databases and analyzed using Cytoscape association graphics, frequency distributions, and interactomes to determine the number and type of health effects reported, the organ systems affected the frequency of specific effects, and systems interactions.
Results: A total of 405 different symptoms due to e-cigarette use were reported from three forums. Of these, 78 were positive, 326 were negative, and one was neutral. While the reported health effects were similar in all three forums, the forum with the most posts was analyzed in detail. Effects, which were reported for 12 organ systems/anatomical regions, occurred most often in the mouth and throat and in the respiratory, neurological, sensory, and digestive systems. Users with negative symptoms often reported more than one symptom, and in these cases interactions were often seen between systems, such as the circulatory and neurological systems. Positive effects usually occurred singly and most frequently affected the respiratory system.
Conclusions: This is the first compilation and analysis of the health effects reported by e-cigarette users in online forums. These data show that e-cigarette use can have wide ranging positive and negative effects and that online forums provide a useful resource for examining how e-cigarette use affects health.