Vaping Poses Serious New Health Risk

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on September 12, 2019

A recent rash of vaping reactions has led to six deaths and more than 450 incidences of serious respiratory illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the severe lung illness has devastating health effects in otherwise healthy people in their teens and 20s who use e-cigarettes. While only a few cases have been reported in Virginia so far, reports continue to increase and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has issued a new warning about the dangers of vaping.

"As students across the Commonwealth head back to school or college, the Virginia Department of Health reminds parents to talk to their sons and daughters about the dangers of e-cigarette use, or vaping," says the VDH release.  

While all forms of tobacco use cause disease and death, many young people erroneously believe that vaping is "safer" than other forms of tobacco use. As a result, the e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle and high school students, with the number of users increasing by 1.5 million from 2017 to 2018. 

Symptoms of this illness can include:

  • Gradual onset of cough over a period of days or weeks
  • Increasing shortness of breath over that time period
  • Worsening fatigue

Some patients also experience diarrhea and vomiting. 

The VDH urges anyone who has a history of e-cigarette use or dabbing (vaping marijuana oils, extracts or concentrates) to watch for these symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if they develop.

Reseachers do not currently know the cause of the illness—whether it's related to chemicals in the flavoring, metals from the heated coils, vitamin E oil that's used as a thickener in some formulations, or something else—so they are recommending that users stop vaping until the cause can be identified.

Resources
Stay on top of this developing issue here: vdh.virginia.gov/vaping.

Visit the CDC for more information on e-cigarettes: cdc.gov/e-cigarettes.

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit QuitNow.net/Virginia for information and coaching to help to stop using tobacco.

Help a loved one kick the habit: Is Someone You Love Harming Their Health?

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This article was reviewed by Joseph R. Tamez, M.D., a pediatric pulmonologist with Carilion Children's