The outbreak of a new epidemic is alarming across the United States. Everyone is looking to vaping as the possible culprit of a series of severe and fatal lung infections.
Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor produced by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats a liquid (e-juice) to form vapors that are then inhaled.
Many users are teens and young adults who may not know the risks associated with it. Vaping is increasing in high school populations with the introduction of the JUUL, which is typically the size of a flash drive and often filled with a pod of flavored e-juice.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping.
What is EVALI?
EVALI is the newest name given to the mysterious lung disease related to vaping. It's an acronym that stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.
EVALI has a sudden onset of symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath and fever. Some patients recover quickly, while others have prolonged lung injury that can be deadly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of Feb. 4, 2020, 2,758 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths have been reported to the CDC from all 50 states. Sixty-four deaths have been confirmed in 28 states.
Although there has not been one reported cause for EVALI, officials have urged that everyone should avoid e-cigarette or vaping products.
Is vaping bad for you?
The simple answer is that yes, vaping is potentially dangerous to your health. It's especially harmful to teens and pregnant women.
What we don't know is if it actually caused the lung problems many have experienced in the past six months.
4 reasons to stop vaping:
1. The nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and can harm the developing brain, meaning that teens and young adults under 25 can be affected.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, nicotine is used in both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It's a toxic substance that raises your blood pressure and spikes adrenaline, which gets your heart racing and increases the likelihood of having a heart attack.
An alarming statistic: One Juul pod is equal to one package or 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine!
2. E-cigarettes have not received FDA approval as smoking cessation devices.
A recent study found that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking ended up continuing to smoke both traditional and e-cigarettes.
We also know that teens who vape are more likely to begin smoking cigarettes. This means more exposure to nicotine.
3. The chemicals included.
By vaping, you're inhaling all kinds of chemicals that researchers don't know enough about yet, including how they could affect your health in the long term.
According to Harvard Medical School, some substances found in e-cigarette vapor have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Experts believe the most likely culprit of EVALI is a contaminant. This could include chemical irritation or allergic or immune reactions to chemicals in the inhaled vapors.
4. Possible links to chronic lung disease, asthma and cardiovascular disease.
“Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma, and associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease. You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.” said Michael Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
About the Author: Lisa is the Program Director of the Respiratory Therapy Program at Nebraska Methodist College. She is a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, who studied at Mayo Clinic. Lisa has a background as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and studied at Well Coaches.