Vaping has been out a while. You seen them before. Teenagers and young Millennials holding a small, handheld device to their mouth and puffing out a quickly dispersing plume of disappearing smoke. It’s not smoke, though, it’s water vapor. What used to be a novelty that only existed in trendy hookah lounges is now a nationwide trend, spawning a new generation of “vapers.”
But in the same way that smoking was never about burning tobacco, vaping isn’t about inhaling water vapor into your lungs. It’s merely a nicotine-delivery mechanism.
Smoking on Decline, but then Vaping…
For years, we’ve known about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. The CDC, the Department of Health & Human Services, and even the Department of Treasury have numbers to support the long-term decline of burning tobacco for nicotine delivery. Despite rates of tobacco use among U.S. adult population are at an all-time low, vaping among teens is high, almost 1 in 5 teens report recent vaping. The trend with an emerging technology and its pervasiveness make it a hard one to ignore.
How Is Smoking Dangerous?
First off, let’s just state unequivocally that burning tobacco to inhale your nicotine is absolutely terrible for your health. We don’t feel like there’s much more to have to argue, but we can cite really smart groups if you’d like:
- The CDC says it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, & lung cancer
- The American Cancer Society says tobacco’s tar & carbon monoxide are bad for your health
- The National Emphysema Foundation says it’s terrible for your skin (premature wrinkles and dry skin)
- The American Heart Association says smoking is linked to 90% of lung cancer cases
- The Department of HHS says smoking give your children asthma, respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome
(There’s more… way more, but we think you get the picture.)
How is smoking dangerous? In every way possible.
Is Vaping Dangerous?
Now, some of the alarmists will point to the most recent recorded deaths back during the summer of 2019 to how dangerous vaping is. They might even call it “e-cigarette vaping associated lung injury,” or EVALI. They will want to ban EVALI completely and be satisfied as if they bans are akin to dry nose remedies. Given that the nature of longitudinal medical research is slow, measured, and dragging, it means some of our immediate outrage and fright to this new trend might end up being empirically untrue.
Knowing we might be overreacting, we have to acknowledge that vaping is still delivering nicotine to your blood stream. Nicotine is still a highly addictive drug that:
- Increases your blood pressure
- Increases your heart rate
- Increases flow of blood to the heart
- Narrows the arteries and hardens your arterial walls, which may lead to heart attacks
A lot of the negative health effects of smoking are related to the tar and carbon monoxide coating your mouth, throat, and lungs. Some, though, are the result of nicotine entering your system. Water vapor or not, vaping is putting the same drug into your bloodstream that could lead to heart disease and strokes.
The CDC & FDA traced the outbreak of EVALI deaths last summer to Vitamin E acetate present in some vaping products. Now, Vitamin E acetate is a wonderful naturally occurring oil we can consume as a dietary supplement. It’s also used as a thickener in cosmetics. However, when Vitamin E acetate is burned & inhaled, the oils will disrupt the function of the surface lining of your lungs.
That specific outbreak highlights how the new vaping trend has young people inhaling unknown chemicals into their bloodstreams, coating their mouths, throats, and lungs with a recipe of potentially dangerous ingredients.
In the same way that smoking was never about the tobacco, vaping’s dangers lie in not knowing what’s you’re inhaling.
Is There an Upside of Vaping?
Remember when we said that smoking tobacco is unequivocally terrible for your health? We meant that. But, as medical professionals, we have to consider the full breadth of available peer-reviewed evidence (or lack thereof).
So when we see the National Academy of Sciences publishes a report citing a relationship between increased vaping & decreased tobacco smoking among teens, we’re happy to hear it. When in the same (smokeless) breath, the report states that those vaping teens have a higher likelihood of developing smoking habits in adulthood, it gives us pause. After that, the same report—reviewing over 800 peer-reviewed scientific studies—concedes that adult smokers use vaping as a cessation plan.
What are Vaping’s Effects on Allergies?
The whole concept of vaping means the vapor has to coat your lungs so an inhalation can deliver the drug. Since vaping is heating up nicotine dissolved in water, a portion of that nicotine-laced vapor will be absorbed into the mucous membranes in the mouth. It’s believed that vaping can increase inflammation & disable the immune function in your lungs. This means your body might not fight off allergens as effectively as it would otherwise. As of yet, there is no evidence to suggest that vaping will worsen or produce new allergy symptoms in a patient.
Beyond the simple biology, there’s more of the situational concerns that vaping might create. If you’re vaping outside more and you’re allergic to oak pollen, then you’ll probably be sniffling & sneezing more as the flora comes into full bloom. Vaping is known to dehydrate its users, so a drier throat will develop more irritations during allergy season.
Do you tell your teen that his vaping will bother his allergies and he just doesn’t listen? Then don’t let him read this article. We’ve got plenty of options for you, though.. Help your child take back their lungs (so they can take back their breath again) by discussing your vaping habits with Dr. Pasha and his team. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates!