Over the past few years, vaping has quietly become popular in mainstream culture. Vaping involves the use of e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid to produce an inhalable aerosol. The practice is called vaping because users are inhaling vapor instead of smoke. They are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.
However, saying that vaping is safer than smoking is misleading. In 2019, e-cigarettes have made national headlines. A CDC update from October 8, 2019 documented that 1,299 people have fallen sick with vaping-related lung illnesses, and 26 vaping-related deaths have been confirmed across 21 states. The CDC is continuing to update these numbers as new cases are reported.
With the rise of vaping-related illnesses and deaths, new health risks related to e-cigarettes are being uncovered every day. If you have chronic lung disease, know that there is very little research available about the long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes and vaping products. Vaping may lead to flare-ups and other dangerous lung complications.
Across the United States, doctors are seeing a wave of vaping-related illnesses that present like pneumonia. Commonly reported symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and fever. Many people have experienced a rapid decline in condition, requiring hospitalization, intensive care and respirator use. Many people have also developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe lung condition that occurs when the air sacs in the lungs fill with fluid. ARDS prevents adequate oxygen from reaching the body’s vital organs, and it can lead to organ failure.
Inhaling any substance into your lungs is dangerous, especially if the substance has not been well-researched to determine its effects on the respiratory system. If you have chronic lung disease and use an e-cigarette, experiencing the symptoms of a vaping-related illness or developing an infection like pneumonia could significantly exacerbate your condition and necessitate medical care.
The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working to identify the cause behind vaping-related illnesses. The liquids used in e-cigarettes may contain a combination of nicotine, flavorings, marijuana oils, propylene glycol, glycerin, metals and other chemicals. These substances are largely unregulated by the FDA and have not been tested for safety during inhalation. The vaporization process may change how the chemicals affect the body and respiratory system.
What research does show is that when the liquid undergoes vaporization, the resulting aerosol releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles that can become trapped in the lungs. VOCs irritate and inflame the respiratory tract. And a recent study revealed that vapors from e-cigarettes increased production of inflammation and disabled protective immune cells in the lungs. The study concluded that the lung effects from vapors looked similar to those seen in people who smoke and in people with chronic lung disease.
If you are seeking treatment options for chronic lung disease, consider cellular therapy at Lung Health Institute. Cellular therapy has the potential to reduce airway inflammation, slow the progression of your disease and help you Breathe Easier™. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our health care providers, contact one of our patient coordinators today.
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