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This August, news broke about a previously unknown lung-related illness that medical authorities believe is tied to vaping products. As of August 21, 149 possible cases of the illness, which is clustered in 15 states at this time, have been reported, and one person has died. Teens and young adults are primarily affected. If you use e-cigarettes, you’re probably pretty concerned about this vaping lung disease, right? Don’t panic—read on for the facts, and then take action to protect your health.
First of all, don’t panic, but do be smart. If you vape and experience any of the symptoms outlined by the CDC, call your doctor immediately; if your symptoms are severe, head to the emergency room, or call 911 for help getting there. Does the existence of this illness mean you should discontinue use of e-cigarettes if you already use them? Yes; erring on the side of safety is a very good idea. This cluster of illness is not the only potential health risk you face if you vape.
“It is still not clear the wide range of lung problems that can occur from vaping,” says Michael Ong, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., Professor in Residence of Medicine & Health Policy and Management at UCLA, and Section Chief, Hospitalist Division, at VA Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. “We don’t have a lot of information about what is contained within vaping devices, electronic cigarettes, and other electronic nicotine delivery systems. The vapor emitted from e-cigarettes is not just ‘water vapor.’ There generally are other additives beyond nicotine, such as propylene glycol or glycerol. Little is known about the overall safety or the cancer-causing effects of these compounds when they’re heated and aerosolized. There have been reports of other issues such as bronchiolitis obliterans, commonly known as “popcorn lung,” from vaping.”