Vaping

E-cigarette use, also known as Vaping, is everywhere.  

Most people think of e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to smoking.  Some people believe it is a useful tool to help people quit smoking. But nothing could be farther from the truth.  

A study in a 2019 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 18% of smokers who used e-cigarettes to stop smoking remained tobacco-free a year later vs. 10% when smokers who quit using traditional nicotine replacement products. 

 Sounds good. The bad news is that 80% of this group was still vaping.  Because a Juul pod delivers the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes in a single tube, it appears these vapers have traded one addiction for another, more serious one. 

How does Vaping work?  E-cigarettes contain a liquid that is heated.  This liquid is vaporized and then inhaled.  E-cigarette vapor is made of fine and ultrafine particles of particulate matter, comprised of propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavors, tiny amounts of toxicants, carcinogens, heavy metals, metal nanoparticles, and other substances. 

 Because e-cigarettes are not regulated, the labels about what is in them can’t be trusted, so omissions of toxic ingredients are permitted. 

Just because ingredients like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin may be digestible when eaten, your body reacts differently and unpredictably when these products are inhaled.   Certain of these particles, once inhaled, can coat your lungs and limit your breathing.  

The CDC has identified at least 2,561 cases of vaping lung illnesses reported through the end of last year, with 55 vaping deaths confirmed.  Street retailed THC cartridges, according to the CDC, may be disproportionately implicated in the current health issues. `

Across the country use of vapor-mist is rising.  Most concerning is the use by people 18 and under.  The number of vapers 18 and under has doubled each year since 2017. 

 Nicotine use during adolescence may cause harm to the developing brain.  Evidence also points to the risk of attention-deficit and reduced impulse control.  Liquids in vape devices associated with lung illness can include nicotine and/or  THC and CBD. 

Even worse are the issues associated with “bootleg” devices, which are sold at cut prices on the street or on the internet.   Unlike products sold in mainstream stores which provide consistent dosages and use strict quality control practices to manufacture the devices, these devices are often made with “artisanal” ingredients, which could be anything, and have been known to explode when heated.  Worse, there is no quality control. People have been seriously injured because the devices have exploded in their faces.

Lung injury is indicated by a range of symptoms.  It might be as simple as having trouble breathing.  Vaping damage can also present with the same symptoms as chemical burns to the lungs. Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting fatigue, fever and/or unexplained weight loss have been present in patients who have injured their lungs from vaping.   It is not clear whether lung damage is caused from the vape liquid coating the lungs, from toxic chemicals released from the vape devices, or it may be a combination of broth.  What is clear is that new and short term users are being affected.  You don’t have to be a long term user to damage your lungs.  Once the injury is significant enough to be diagnosed, 1/3 of patients need breathing machines to keep themselves alive. 

The bottom line is that vaping is not a “safe alternative” to smoking, no matter what you are smoking.  It is also true that those who vape need to protect their lungs.   If you are using e-cigarettes and experience any physical changes, consult a physician right away. 

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