UPDATE: This article was updated with new information on Nov. 1, 2019.
Before people knew that vaping was a major health risk, it was once presented as a "better" alternative to smoking cigarettes. But now the CDC reports that as of Nov. 1, 2019, over 1,888 people have contracted a lung illness related to vaping. What's even more alarming is that 37 people have now died from vaping-related respiratory illnesses. With a public health scare underway, Dr. Oz is taking a stance: stay away from vaping until the FDA knows more about what's causing these illnesses.
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According to Globe News Wire, the e-cigarette industry has rapidly been gaining popularity over the past few years and is expected to be worth $53.4 billion dollars by 2024. E-cigarettes (otherwise known as vapes or pens) work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that you breathe into your lungs. Different products liquid-holding devices, such as cartridges and pods are inserted in these devices and are filled with chemicals like nicotine, THC, and CBD. Though the root cause of vaping-related illnesses are still widely unknown, here's what Dr. Oz and Dr. Sanjay Gupta have to say about the medical breakdown of vaping.
Why You're Hearing About Vaping-Related Illnesses, According to Dr. Oz
Doctors all over the country are scrambling to pinpoint a solution to these lung illnesses. Dr. Oz spoke at length with Dr. Gupta on the issue when Dr. Gupta appeared The Dr. Oz Show on Sept. 18, 2019. Dr. Gupta says it best: "It seems like the lungs just don’t like when people are vaping and as a result, the body is aggressively reacting with an inflammatory response."
Researchers think that when you vape, the oil from the cartridges goes into your lungs. Once it cools down, it forms a grease-like coating on the cells in your lungs, which ultimately causes damage to those cells. Because of this damage, people who take part in vaping may start to develop breathing problems.
Dr. Gupta points out that scientists have identified that some cannabis-containing vaping cartridges are very high in vitamin E acetate. The working theory scientists have, according to Dr. Gupta, is that vitamin E could be clogging the lungs in some way, which could be leading to these lung diseases that people are contracting because of vaping.
E-cigarette Bans in Effect
E-cigarettes bans have already been put into place. This summer in June 2019, San Francisco was the first city to ban the sale and distribution of all e-cigarettes. And in September, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Governor Cuomo of New York followed soon after and put a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, which went into effect on September 15, 2019. Cuomo said in a press release that this ban was mainly put into effect to discourage teens and young adults from starting this clearly dangerous habit. According to The New York Times, the FDA and the Trump administration came to the conclusion that the FDA should ban non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes from the market as of now.
Symptoms of Lung Disease, According to Dr. Oz
The symptoms that could indicate vaping-induced lung disease include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stomach issues (like nausea or vomiting)
If you're a frequent e-cigarette user and you experience these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor to rule out the possibility of a serious lung illness, or get treatment for one.
How to Stop Vaping
Breaking any addiction is difficult. Arguably, the hardest part of quitting vaping is the withdrawal symptoms you're likely to get after quitting. According to Truth Initiative, a U.S. non-profit organization helping to break smoking addictions, there are a couple of things you can do on a daily basis to get your mind off of nicotine withdrawals. These include proper exercise, brain distractions (such as reading or doing a puzzle), and even celebrating at the end of each day the fact that you haven't used an e-cigarette.
If you think a friend or family member is suffering from an e-cigarette addiction, the best thing to do, according to Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, Calif., it's best to discuss the subject with someone you're concerned about, rather than lecturing them on it. Discussing a subject in a way that doesn't point fingers or make assumptions is the best way to make people feel heard, and the same goes for discussing addictions. You can read more on what the CDC says about vaping, on its website.