In recent years, smokers have been busy ditching traditional cigarettes in favor of vaping. Initially, many people believed that this was a step in the right direction, but the habit is becoming fashionable among teenagers. The cartridges of flavored electronic mist come in a variety of flavors, from bubblegum to mint. If smoking was the "cool kid" accessory of the '50s, then vaping is its modern-day equivalent. As with most modern fads like these, we still don't know exactly what the long-term health effects will be. When cigarettes first gained popularity decades ago, many believed the habit was actually good for you.
Now, with time and science on our side, we know differently. Will the same be said of vaping in years to come? There have been some reports of vaping-related illnesses, but are they really linked to it, or is it just a coincidence? Here's everything you need to know about the worrying vaping-related hospitalizations.
Vaping-Related Hospitalizations: What exactly happened?
Back in August, a man posted on social media claiming that vaping caused his lung to collapse. According to Vapebeat, the Daily Mail published the story which soon gained traction, but sources were left unverified. As well as this incident, there were multiple other cases. Dylan Nelson believed his asthma was acting up when he attended the ER with his mother, only to find his blood oxygen level was 10%. Doctors swiftly placed him into a medically induced coma. Dylan's mother spoke to staff, who told her of at least two other cases with one common denominator: all patients vaped.
Cases were reported in Illinois, Minnesota, and Milwaukee. The sudden outbreak prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release a statement confirming "94 possible cases of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping."
What were the symptoms of the vaping-related hospitalizations?
The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee was the first to treat patients when eight otherwise healthy teens were admitted after complaining of coughing, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. Some cases were so extreme that they needed to be admitted to the intensive care unit, according to NPR. Doctors soon realized that vaping could be the root cause. Three people died from the mysterious illness.
How is vaping to blame in these hospitalizations?
As all of these patients were otherwise healthy individuals who all vaped, it seems to be a natural conclusion. Patients were interviewed, while some vaping cartridges (some of which contained THC) were sent for testing. While it hasn't been confirmed that vaping is the definite cause, it is widely assumed. Dylan Nelson, now fully recovered, believes that the cartridge he brought from a friend is to blame. "The oil from the cartridge was really watered down. And it was pee-colored," he explained. "It wasn't supposed to be that color, it's supposed to be dark amber."
Should we stop or stop our teens from vaping?
The last update from the CDC confirmed that totals had risen to 215 cases, with as much as 450 possible cases in a total of 33 states. Out of the samples taken for testing by the CDC, 10 were found to contain Vitamin E acetate, a substance that can be harmful to the lungs. At the moment, while the investigation is ongoing, it's strongly advised that anyone who does vape should stop - at least for now.
If your teenager is partial to vaping, it may be a good idea to make them fully aware of the ongoing situation, and the dangers of using cartridges that are street bought. The CDC suggests that those who continue to vape monitor themselves closely for any signs of the illness, including shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, nausea, and fever. Those falling ill should be taken to their closest ER as soon as possible for assessment.
The takeaway from these vaping-related hospitalizations:
There is still a lot that we don't know about vaping and how it affects our bodies in the long-term. Teenagers will be especially vulnerable when it comes to buying THC cartridges from school friends. Just like any street bought drugs, dealers often mix the oil with things that they shouldn't.
While it's not immediately clear exactly what is causing these vaping-related illnesses, ensuring children are fully aware of the ongoing situation is essential. We can't follow them around 24/7 but ensuring they have the correct information to make good choices often goes a long way.