The Reasons Vaping is Deadly


On Tuesday, California health officials issued a statement urging everyone to stop using vaping products in response to the nine deaths and 530 people who have fallen ill in the United States from severe respiratory illnesses related to vaping. Vaping is the process of electronically heating liquids to create aerosols that are inhaled into the body, usually through the use of an electronic cigarette also called a vape pen or JUUL.

Palomar Health’s Gregory Hirsch, MD, a practicing pulmonologist for more than 36 years, says the consequences of vaping isn’t surprising to the pulmonary community, “It’s very dangerous.”

Dr. Hirsch says the vaping process creates chemicals, including heavy metals, nickel, tin and lead, which damage lung tissue.

“You should not inhale anything into your lungs except air,” Dr. Hirsch says.

Originally marketed as a device to stop smoking, Dr. Hirsch rejects claims that e-cigarettes are less harmful and addictive than traditional cigarettes because they don’t contain tobacco.

“The amount of nicotine can be greater (in an e-cigarette) than what’s in a cigarette,” Dr. Hirsch says, adding that nicotine is highly addictive in any form and has significant negative effects on the part of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood and impulse control.

Because of vaping’s serious side effects, he always recommends patients try nicotine gum or other non-aerosol treatments when trying to quit smoking.

Vaping is also used to liquefy cannabis products but Dr. Hirsch says the side effects are just as dangerous as with nicotine. The same products ingested in a non-aerosol form can be less harmful, at least to the lungs.

If you are a vape user and suffer from coughing, fever, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea or have trouble breathing, see a doctor immediately. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of patients suffering from vaping-related illness are male and between the ages of 18 and 34.

The exact cause of the illness is currently not known but health officials around the country are investigating. Until a cause is identified, the CDC recommends stopping the use of all vaping products.

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