“The Vape”. This topic is now the subject of much dialogue among people around the world. The uncertainty circling it is creating a stir, and it is with good reason. We don’t know exactly what is happening and we don’t know what is to come.
For a proper full disclosure, I am guilty of having special interests in mind. You see, I am a nurse and doctoral student. My special interests are simple. They are: people & science. As such, I am asking you to put all the political rhetoric to the side and focus on the issue at hand.
History of “The Vape”
Historically, the leading authority on disease and health is the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s primary function is to collect data and monitor health concerns like infectious diseases, obesity, cancer, and causes of death in the U.S. They are key in expediting the understanding of new and emergent health conditions. A current fear is the emergence of a severe lung disease that is associated with vaping or the use of e-cigarettes. It is most worrisome because of the people who are being affected and the swiftness and severity that they are experiencing harm. People are experiencing severe lung disease at a much younger age than regular cigarettes.
*The mechanism for delivery of inhaled products is essential the same between e-cigarettes and vaporizer, therefore vaping with be used to capture both products in this blog.
To better understand the problem, the CDC has organized a team of scientists and epidemiologist who work with state health departments and clinicians to study suspect cases of lung disease. Known cases are thoroughly reviewed to ensure that they match the case definitions for the vape study. As of the date this blog was written, this is what is currently known to the CDC:
- 380 confirmed cases of lung disease caused by vaping
- confirmed cases are located in 36 different states and 1 U.S. territory
- 6 deaths reported from 6 different states
All reported cases include a history of vaping or e-cigarette use. Most people reported using vaporized products containing THC. Others report the use of THC and nicotine combined. Fewer reports suggest the use of nicotine by itself.
Clinical Features of Vaping Induced Lung Illness
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, & diarrhea (usually first symptom)
- Non-productive cough
- Chest pain in the pleural region
- Shortness of breath that begins weeks or even days before hospitalization
- Fast heart rate, fever, chills, or fatigue
- Chest x-ray shows lung infiltrates
- Chest CT scans shows ground glass opacities
If you, or someone you love develops any of the above-mentioned symptoms and has been using e-cigarettes, please consult your healthcare team. If the symptoms are emergent, call 911 for immediate care.
If you are having symptoms it is important to do the following with your healthcare provider:
- Fully disclose all health information to your health care provider.
- The products used (homemade vs. commercially, THC, CDB, flavors, etc. )
- The type of device used
- Where the products were purchased
- Method of inhalation
In addition to this list of items your healthcare provider will also ask about your medical history. They will also be interested in any underlying diseases or infections in your body, especially involving the lungs. Remember it is also helpful to know when the symptoms started. There has never been a more important time for candidness with your healthcare provider then when describing your medical history.
Vulnerable individuals such children, women who are pregnant, and individuals who already suffer from chronic diseases should be especially careful with exposure to vaping and e-cigarettes until more is known. Very little is known about vaping to date. However, what is known appears to be forecasting a serious health risk to the general public cased by The Vape. If you are concerned about harmful effects from vaping, discuss them with your practitioner.
Love and Best of Health
Jasmine Bhatti PhD(c), MS, RN, Co-founder, CEO
Poison control 1-800-222-1222.
The CDC also encourages the general public to submit a detailed report of any unexpected tobacco or e-cigarette related issue to the FDA at: https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, September). Outbreak of Lung Disease Associated with E-Cigarette Use of Vaping. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, August). Health Alert Network: Severe Pulmonary Disease Associated with Using E-Cigarette Products. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00421.asp