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The Real, Scary Facts about Vaping
The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, has recently swept across our nation in what the FDA is calling an epidemic, with several deaths and hundreds of possible cases of severe lung injury being attributed to this new fad. And, despite the warnings, these devices have become extremely popular, especially among teens. In the last five years, the use of e-cigarettes has grown dramatically, sparking a national concern. Physicians, parents, and the Trump Administration are just a few of the many groups now sounding the alarm on vaping.
What are E-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are devices that operate by heating a liquid solution to a high-enough temperature so that it produces an aerosol, which is then inhaled. Typically, the solution contains nicotine (though not always), other chemicals, or drugs such as marijuana. The devices can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes (cig-a-likes), cigars, pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks. There are more than 460 different e-cigarette brands currently on the market. These include flavored varieties that taste like menthol, alcohol, fruit, chocolate, or other sweets. 9 out of 10 young adult e-cigarette users choose the flavored vaping alternatives.
What are the effects of E-cigarettes and vaping?
Although the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown at this time, studies are showing significant health risks to users, especially to adolescents. Kenny Larsen, Physician Assistant at Carson Tahoe Health who specializes in Pulmonology, says that “lung growth and function plateaus between ages 20-25. After this time, the lungs stop growing, meaning they are designed to last us the rest of our lives.” Larsen also stated that most damage to the lungs usually doesn’t show up until later in life. This is one of the reasons it is difficult to accurately assess the real harm associated with long-term vaping.”
Tobacco companies market “smoke-free” vaping as a “less harmful” alternative to smoking, as some of the aerosols don’t contain nicotine; but that designation is not true according to Carmella Downing, Physician Assistant and Cardiology Specialist at Carson Tahoe Health. “Even without nicotine, inhalation of foreign particulates, which have been found in vaping products, is a gamble that could have deadly results,” said Downing.
The use of e-cigarettes can lead to serious lung damage and disease and slow brain development in younger people. In addition, Larsen says “from the perspective of someone who specializes in chronic lung disease, anything other than air inhaled into the lungs, has the risk of causing long-term damage to the lungs.”
What can you do?
Start the conversation! Discuss the dangers of e-cigarettes with your children and let them know the damages it can cause not only now, but in the long-term. Due to the escalation of vaping, it’s addictive properties, and the increase of vaping-related illnesses, the Trump administration, along with top health officials, are discussing possible ways to keep this product away from adolescents and young adults. Other countries around the world have already taken action to ban e-cigarettes.
We still have a lot to learn about e-cigarettes, but the bottom line is vaping poses significant, avoidable health risks to users. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) are encouraging people to learn the risks associated with e-cigarette usage, and have advised consumers to stop vaping if they experience symptoms that include cough, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and fatigue.