The use of electronic cigarettes or “vaping” is on the rise, as is lung-related diseases caused by their use. As of January 7, 2020, 2,602 lung injury cases associated with the use of vaping products have been reported to the CDC from 50 different states since March 2019.
E-cigarettes, also called “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” and “vape pens” work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The liquid can contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other additives and flavorings.
“The e-cigarette industry is changing rapidly,” said Terry Webb, Registered Respiratory Therapist at The Bellevue Hospital. “Vaping devices now come in many shapes and sizes. Some look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes, while others look like USB flash drives, pens, markers and other everyday items,” continued Webb.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 99 percent of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can harm the brain of a developing adolescent.
“Many teenagers, pre-teens, and parents I speak to, assume that vaping or Juuling is safe,” said Webb. “They think it is only flavored water droplets they are inhaling. They don’t understand that it is a tobacco product that can have adverse effects on their brains and overall health. I encourage parents and caregivers to learn the facts about vaping and start a conversation to share those facts with their children,” continued Webb.
While scientists are still learning about the long-term effects of vaping, many ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol can also be harmful to the lungs in the long term. Along with nicotine, flavorings such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to lung disease), cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead may be found in the aerosol breathed from the device.
Symptoms of lung injury reported by vaping patients include:
• Coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain
• Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea
• Fatigue, fever, or weight loss
Some patients have reported symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported their symptoms developed over several weeks. If you or your child show symptoms that may be related to the use of vaping products, seek medical help immediately.
The Bellevue Hospital's January Mature Audience Luncheon will focus on vaping information and resources. The event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Bellevue Society for the Arts, located at 205 Maple Street in Bellevue. The event is open to the public age 55 and older. A lunch fee of $3.00 will be charged at the door. Reservations are requested. To register, call 419.483.4040, Ext. 4209
For further information about vaping and e-cigarette use, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco.