Lung-related illnesses linked to the use of vaping devices have caught the attention of many across the U.S. Some states have even limited the sale of vaping products or moved to ban vaping completely.
But what is it about these products — promoted as a safer alternative to cigarettes — that has so many concerned?
Roper St. Francis experts say it’s what we don’t know that’s so worrisome. Until now, vaping products have not had to undergo much scrutiny, leaving questions about how the vaping liquid, which includes nicotine, is produced and what else could be in it.
The other big concern, many experts agree, is that vaping seems to appeal to young people. This has been blamed on the packaging and flavors used by many vaping-product producers.
What do we know about vaping?
Vaping is the broad term used to describe a method of inhaling nicotine or other substances into the lungs.
Vaping is often done using products called e-cigarettes, which work by heating a liquid substance to the point that it produces fine particles (aerosol) for inhalation.
Though smokeless cigarettes and vaping products are not new, the market for these products has grown in the last decade.
In 2019, the CDC reported an outbreak of lung injuries associated with vaping product use. From March through early November 2019, 2,051 U.S. cases were reported, with 39 confirmed deaths. Most of the lung injury cases reported by the CDC have been linked to the use of products containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the compound found in marijuana that produces that drug’s signature “high.”
New analyses of fluid samples from 29 patients with vaping-related lung injuries show the presence of a chemical called vitamin E acetate.
The CDC and Food and Drug Administration have cautioned people to avoid e-cigarettes or other vaping products that contain THC. Both organizations have also urged broad avoidance of all e-cigarette and vaping products while they work to identify the cause of reported lung injuries.
Roper St. Francis experts remind the public that vaping products should never been used by children, young adults and pregnant women, as nicotine can interfere with brain development.
What to watch for if you vape
The CDC warns those who vape to avoid purchasing vaping products off the street. They also caution against making modifications to vaping products or adding substances to them not intended by the manufacturer.
If you do vape, talk to your doctor about your nicotine use and let them know if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea
- Weight loss