Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco is unhealthy. However, millions of people remain addicted to nicotine, and they are often feeling the pressure to quit. Enter the e-cigarette. E-cigarettes, or vape pens, are smokeless devices that aerosolize nicotine juice (or THC in some cases) to produce an inhaled vapor, and they are often marketed as a healthy alternative to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Yet, this reputation is not well deserved. In fact, recent trends have shown that e-cigarettes can pose significant health risks, including death. As of October 24th, the number of vaping related deaths in the United States was 37, and there were 1,888 documented cases of vaping related illness. This sudden surge in vape related illness is only part of the story. Because vaping is a relatively new trend, its effects are not well known or fully documented. Still, early evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are just as bad as cigarettes for your health (if not worse).
In early September, both the FDA and the CDC issued warnings to the general public regarding the dangers of vaping. The CDC recommended that people consider not using e-cigarettes, while the FDA further warned that e-cigarette users only purchase these devices from authorized retailers and not attempt to alter the devices themselves. It is not currently known exactly why severe vape related illness have had such a recent surge, but there are some established baselines on the dangers of vaping.
Immediate Effects of Vaping
Vape juices not only have much higher concentrations of nicotine than cigarettes—making them much more addictive—but they also contain many carcinogenic particles that can be harmful to your health. Specifically formaldehyde, which has been isolated in e-cigarette vapor among other dangerous chemicals. In the short-term, inhaling these harmful solutions can cause inflammation in the lungs and make users more susceptible to infections, such as pneumonia. Wheezing, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms are also common effects of vaping.
Another potentially devastating effect of vaping is the risk of a device malfunction. There have been documented cases of e-cigarettes exploding due to battery malfunctions, and this can occur while the device is in use. If a vape pen explodes while you are using it, you may suffer extensive injuries to the mouth and face.
Over long periods, vaping can cause widespread cardiovascular damage, which is an effect of nicotine itself. In other words, vaping as an alternative to cigarettes does nothing to limit your risk of heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sudden cardiac death. There is also evidence linking vaping to the onset of seizures, particularly in younger adults and teens.
Steps to Help You Quit
Quitting vaping is challenging, but it is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you are ready to give up e-cigarettes, the following steps can help:
- Talk to a physician. Your doctor can offer you a wealth of resources to help you quit, including nicotine replacement medications.
- Consider counseling. Behavioral medicine is also a powerful tool to help you break a nicotine addiction. Speaking with a counselor can help you identify triggers that cause you to vape or smoke, and therapy can be a great support for your quitting journey.
- Lean on friends and family. When you do decide to quit, make sure you notify your friends, family members, and coworkers. This will further strengthen your support network and give you more accountability in your goals. You might even encourage loved ones to give up their bad habits along with you!
With MeMD, you can find the clinical and mental healthcare services you need to finally quit vaping. We offer convenient online doctor visits, and you can connect with a medical provider or therapist on your schedule for a flat, affordable rate.