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Talk with the Doc: Vaping carries many serious health risks

Last year, I wrote a previous column informing our readers of the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes. As more and more young people are doing vaping to consume e-cigarettes, I believe it is very important and timely to again review the very serious health risks of this potentially deadly choice to do vaping.

Vaping is defined as the action or practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or a similar device. Specifically, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol, often referred to as vapor, produced by an e-cigarette, a vaping pen, or various other similar devices. The user may choose to use a vaping device to consume nicotine, various flavored liquids, or marijuana.

Let us first take a look at the reported health dangers of vaping in the USA. In December of 2019, the USA Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the following. Today, we face a new and evolving public health threat. Since early 2019, the CDC has reported on more than 2,000 confirmed or probable serious lung disease cases all across the United States from the use of e-cigarettes, known as vaping. More than half of the cases are patients 24 years or younger. Very tragically, this epidemic caused by vaping has claimed more than 40 lives, and the number of cases continues to rise today in the USA.

Vaping devices are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of nicotine consumption among youth in the United States. Research also shows that many teens do not even realize that vaping cartridges contain nicotine, and assume they only contain flavoring. The easy availability of these devices, various flavors, and the belief that they’re safer than cigarettes have helped make them appealing to these younger age groups. In addition, they are easy to hide from teachers and parents because they do not leave behind the stench of tobacco cigarettes, and are often disguised as their computer flash drives. This is very concerning due to the rapidly developing information about the significant short and long term health risks from vaping.

Nicotine is the primary agent in both regular cigarettes and in many e-cigarettes, and nicotine is highly addictive. It causes a person to crave more smoking and to suffer nicotine withdrawal symptoms when not being used. Nicotine is a very toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack. It is important to realize that there are many unknowns about vaping, including what chemicals make up the vapor and how they affect a person’s physical health over the long term. It is also very important to realize that emerging data suggests that vaping, like cigarette smoking, will cause serious chronic lung disease, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Scientists are now advising us that vaping exposes people to all kinds of chemicals that are not yet well understood but the growing body of evidence now shows that they are certainly very unhealthy.

Based on what we are now know and what is being reported by the USA National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others regarding vaping, one should take a long serious look at this health information before starting or continuing vaping. I highly recommend that parents and teachers get this information about the serious health dangers from vaping to their children and students without delay. For more information about these health risks, go to the NIH web site at www.nih.gov, and do a search for vaping.

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