Introduced in the mid-2000s as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, vaping has been in the news recently as mysterious new illnesses have been appearing that are thought to be linked to the practice. In King County, six cases of vaping-related respiratory infections have been diagnosed in recent months, bringing the total across the state to 12 in patients under the age of 50. Due to the wide variety of classic and fruity flavors available for the oils, vaping has skyrocketed in popularity in teens and young adults in recent years, becoming even more popular than traditional cigarettes. Making sure you know the risks of vaping and e-cigarettes is critical to staying healthy and safe.
What is vaping and who does it affect?
Vaping, or vaporizing, is the process of heating up oil in a specialized compartment within an e-cigarette to consume. Heating causes the liquid to form into a vapor, which is inhaled. While an exact ingredient list varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, most oils include nicotine and artificial flavors. Many manufacturers claim that vaping oils do not contain nicotine, which is how it became known as a tool to help people quit smoking. Despite an ingredients list, you never truly know what you’re getting from vaping: trace amounts of lead, tin, nickel and fine particles have been found in vaping oils, which can cause additional problems. While fewer harmful substances are used to create vaping oil than are used in traditional cigarettes, risks are still associated.
This month, Washington State passed a bill banning the sale of flavored vaping products in order to combat the epidemic across the country and determine what exactly is causing the spike in illness. While you need to be at least 21 to buy tobacco and smoking products in Washington, vaping among teens has reached epidemic status. All 12 cases of vaping related respiratory illness diagnosed since the summer were in patients under the age of 50.
What are health risks associated with vaping?
Vaping has not been available long enough to determine the long-term effects associated with the practice. It is currently being linked with a type of respiratory illness that shares similar symptoms with the flu virus, which is making it difficult to diagnose as we move into fall. The easiest way to be able to diagnose the flu versus determining a cause relating to vaping is to get your annual flu shot to prevent catching the virus. If you begin to develop any unusual symptoms, visit your local urgent care immediately for imaging and initial tests to determine the best course of treatment.
Flu & Respiratory Illness Treatment in Southcenter, Kent, Renton, SeaTac & Tukwilla, WA
If you are beginning to experience new symptoms affecting your respiratory system, visit AFC Urgent Care Southcenter for diagnosis and treatment. Our center is open seven days a week and walk-in patients are always accepted. For questions, please call 425-970-8117.