A popular, yet harmful trend for many teenagers and young adults is vaping. Recently, scientists and healthcare providers are starting to see the health effects caused by e-cigarettes, including Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care centers. According to Amra Nasir, MD, medical director for Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care, “several cases of shortness of breath and wheezing in young adults and teenagers have been related to vaping.” Learn more about this dangerous new trend and how it can affect your health.
What is an E-Cigarette?
The act of using an e-cigarette is often called “vaping.” They come in various shapes and sizes and can look like USB flash drives, pens, pipes, cigars and cigarettes. These devices have a battery, heating element and liquid reservoir. When e-cigarettes are used, they produce an aerosol vapor by heating a liquid containing nicotine, flavoring and other harmful chemicals. Dr. Nasir adds, “even those e-cigarettes that do not have nicotine can contain other chemicals and haven’t been proven safe.”
Can Vaping Cause Health Problems?
There is a myth that using e-cigarettes is safer than using regular cigarettes. While some e-cigarettes have less chemicals than burned tobacco products, they can still cause lung injuries or cancer. Some of these products also contain more nicotine than a regular cigarette.
Even the use of e-cigarettes as a quit-aid has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. “Regardless of how it is administered, nicotine is a dangerous, addictive chemical that can have lasting health effects,” says Dr. Nasir.
What Symptoms Should I Look For?
If you are concerned that your child is vaping, Dr. Nasir recommends talking with them about the dangers of any kind of smoking and watching for certain signs that may indicate vaping. These could include:
- Sweet scents on their clothing
- Skin changes, such as more acne, slow wound healing and aging skin
- Increased thirst or decreased taste
Dr. Nasir states, “any kind of smoking, including vaping can cause serious respiratory health conditions such as pneumonia and make those with asthma worse. Especially during the upcoming colder months when the cold air can make it harder to breath. Even recovering from the flu is harder when you smoke or vape.” More serious health symptoms related to vaping that require immediate medical attention, even in adults, include:
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain
Dr. Nasir advises to talk with your pediatrician or primary care provider about safe alternatives to quitting smoking. There are serious health conditions such as COPD, asthma, heart disease and cancer that can be avoided if you quit smoking. “I know it is hard, but it is one of the best things you can do for your health and the health of your family.”