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Everything You Need To Know About Vaping And Its Health Risks

Dr.Javed Hayat

3 min read

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Vaping has emerged as a serious concern in the younger generation as an alternative to smoking. It refers to the act of inhalation and exhalation of aerosol contained in an e-cigarette or similar device. The smoke produced is not tobacco smoke but rather aerosol that is often mistaken for water vapour—hence the name.

Vaping gained a lot of popularity in recent years, which was introduced initially in the US in 2007. Devices such as vape pens, e-cigarettes and advanced personal vaporizers (known as MODS) have been introduced in the market. Companies are trying to introduce less expensive devices that are simpler in design and even some that resemble fountain pens.

In a vaping pen, there is a mouthpiece, a cartridge for e-liquid or e-juice, a battery and a heating component that is powered by the battery. The heating device converts the e-liquid into a vapour that is inhaled by the consumer and then exhaled.

One of the most popular vaping pens and devices come by the name of JUUL. It is a sleek device that resembles a USB device and is commonly used by middle and high school students. Infact, about 72 percent of the market share of JUUL comes from this strata. Another fact that makes these vaping devices more popular among the students are the enticing flavours they come in. Some popular flavours include: crème brulee, fruit medley and mango.

However, the growing evidence against vaping products indicates that vaping products may be dangerous. Read on to know a few facts about vaping.

1- What is the e-liquid in vaping pen?

The e-liquid or the e-juice in the vaping contains a propylene glycol or vegetable-glycerin based liquid and infused with it are nicotine, chemicals, flavouring and metals. However, the vaping liquid does not contain tobacco.

Other liquids that can be vaped in these devices include THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering effects, and synthetic drugs like flakka; some flavouring also contains diacetyl. Diacetyl is a chemical that is linked to serious but rare lung disease. While most people think that technically vaping is better than smoking—as the smoker is not exposed to the estimated 7000 chemical compounds in a regular cigarette—the long term effects on mortality and morbidity related to vaping are not yet clear.

2- Vaping is highly addictive:

The liquid contained in vaping devices is nicotine, which is a highly addictive chemical. Infact, according to a study conducted by the United States National Academy of Sciences, even the other components of vaping liquid, apart from nicotine, are ‘potentially harmful’. The e-liquids used in vaping pens are chemically unstable, and the heating process may convert them into new chemicals that irritate the airways and can have other toxic effects. For example, flavor chemicals such as vanilla or fruit, when mixed with the vapor carrier chemical, i.e. propylene glycol, can react to produce acetals.

Apart from nicotine, a study published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal showed that the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes with the youth is due to the variety of flavors it comes in. There is a wide range of available flavors that attract the youth. Infact, about 1.5 million teenagers in the US currently use e-cigarettes. According to the former head of FDA (Food and Drug Authority), Dr Scott Gottlieb, vaping has achieved a form of an epidemic.

3- Health conditions associated with vaping:

In the United States, health concerns are arising over the use of vaping devices. This concern has peaked after severe cases of respiratory illnesses that killed six people in the United States. The affected individuals were otherwise healthy young people that started developing difficulty breathing, with mild symptoms initially but worsened suddenly over a period of days.

According to the investigation of New York’s health department, vaping is associated with a lot of respiratory conditions. Patients complain of symptoms like difficulty in breathing, and chest pain; infact some people were serious enough to warrant hospitalization and even being put on ventilators.

Another 450 people were hospitalized for lung diseases in this duration. These illnesses were related to the use of vaping and e-cigarettes. Several teens were placed in a medically induced coma, while others needed a lung transplant. These problems likely arose due to the use of counterfeit cannabis cartridge that also contained vitamin E oil. In combination, these chemicals are harmful when inhaled.

Other medics have reported the cases of acute lipoid pneumonia, a form of respiratory illness whereby oils or fat-containing substances enter the lungs and cause distress.

4- The United States is banning vaping devices:

After the rise in the number of respiratory illnesses seen with vaping devices, the authorities in the US are working to ban the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes. The first state to do so was San Francisco, followed by Richmond, Virginia.

The Trump administration is working to deter young users from taking up e-cigs.

Addiction in any form—tobacco smoking or nicotine consumption—both is bad for health. Get a thorough check-up from your doctor, and the age-relevant investigations to rule out the risk of diseases. Book an appointment with a top general physician in Multan, Lahore and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr.Javed Hayat
Dr.Javed Hayat - Author Dr. Javed Hayat Khan is a Pulmonologist practicing in Lahore. Dr. Javed Hayat Khan has the following degrees: MBBS, FRCP (London), MRCP (UK), FCCP , Diploma in Thoracic Medicine (London), FRCP (Glasgow) and has 36 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr. Javed Hayat Khan by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button.

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