E-cigarettes and Vaping: An emerging problem in Adolescents!

Vaping refers to using an e-cigarette or other device that typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings, and other chemicals. There has been a drastic increase in the number of children and adolescents who have started vaping throughout the world. In this article we shall discuss the vape contents, its adverse effects and measures to reduce it.

What are vaping devices?
Vaping devices are battery-operated devices. The battery heats the solution to convert it into an aerosol which the person inhales. The older vaping devices are like e-cigarettes, cigars and pipes while the newer devices are like pens or USB memory sticks.

Why is vaping getting more common in teenagers?
Vaping devices are getting popular among teenagers and are now a common form of nicotine used amongst youth worldwide. Many teenagers actually are unaware that vapes contain nicotine and assume that they contain only flavoring. Easy availability of vapes and advertisements make them appealing to this age group. Vapes are easy to hide from teachers and parents as they do not leave behind tobacco stench and are disguised as pen drives.

What’s in vapes and e-cigarettes?
Most teenagers believe that e-cigarettes and vapes are safe as they do not contain tobacco, which is the most harmful part of a cigarette. However, e-cigarettes and vapes can lead to many adverse effects. A variety of toxic chemicals are present in the e-liquids and those produced during the heating/vaporizing process. E-liquids contain flavoring agents, nicotine and propylene glycol and glycerin, used to create vapor. E-liquids and flavorings sometimes have other chemicals that can cause cancer (acetaldehyde and formaldehyde) and lung disease (acrolein, diacetyl and diethylene glycol). In addition, toxic metal nanoparticles (nickel, cadmium and chromium) can be present from the device itself, especially from the nichrome heating coils of the vaporizing device. E Cigarettes and vapes also contain nicotine which is an addictive chemical. Some vapes also contain vitamin e acetate and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which was found to cause significant lung injury and death.

What are the side effects and dangers of vaping?
Vaping can have side effects which can involve various organs of our body. Many side effects about vaping are still unknown and are emerging. The most commonly involved organs with vaping are the lungs. The adverse effects of vaping on the lungs is detailed in the next section. Vaping leads to many oral adverse effects such as constant dry mouth, irritation in the throat and poor oral health. Most vapes contain nicotine, vaping can be very addictive. Nicotine can also affect the developing brain and can be potentially harmful to teens and young adults. Some substances found in e-cigarettes and vaping have been associated with an increased risk of cancer, although this data has still not been confirmed. It has also been found that children who start to vape are more likely to end up starting cigarette smoking as well. Secondary smoke which is produced when a person vapes can also lead to harm to bystanders.

What’s the Impact of E-Cigarettes and Vaping on Lungs?
Lungs are possibly the worst hit organ from the effects of e cigarettes and vaping. E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), is an acute or subacute respiratory illness which is increasingly seen throughout the world. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, shortness of breath and fever. Some patients can have associated gastrointestinal issues like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Chest X Rays and CT Chest show bilateral ground-glass opacities, with a basilar predominance. If the history of vaping is not clear, diagnosis might be difficult and can mimic other respiratory problems including infections. Treatment of EVALI is with corticosteroids.

What measures can be taken to reduce vaping and adolescents and young adults?
The best method to reduce vaping in adolescents and young people is to increase awareness about its adverse effects. They need to be made aware about the side effects of nicotine to the growing brain. They also need to be made aware about the various harmful chemicals present in the vape. Talking to children in a non-accusing way is extremely important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *