Vaping and Asthma - Is It Safe?

So safety is a relative thing. Everything has inherent risks. The food we eat could be contaminated. Walking down the street, we could trip and fall. Driving our cars…you get the idea. But when it comes to some things in life, the risks are greater. According to the CDC, smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. But are E-cigs any safer?

So to clarify the terminology, E-cigs are electronic cigarettes. The act of inhaling anything from an E-cig is called “vaping”. Most commonly, people are vaping nicotine or THC (found in marijuana).  Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, watches, and other everyday items (some are even made to look like asthma inhalers).

The idea behind the use of an electronic cigarette is that by inhaling nicotine without the combustible flame of a cigarette, fewer toxic chemicals like tar, ash, or carbon monoxide will be released, thus making it a “healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes”. This thought is what has made it so popular, and the variety of fruit flavors has been particularly appealing to teens. In September 2019, the FDA revealed that 27.5% of high schoolers were current users of e-cigarettes this year. This is increased from 20.8% in 2018, and an 11.7% in 2017, demonstrating a steady increase in vaping among teens. However, the idea that E-cigs are safer than traditional cigarettes is likely inaccurate.

Most recently the controversy has centered around vaping-associated lung disease. The vaping-associated lung disease has risen due to contamination in the supply chain. While most of the people affected by vaping-associated lung disease appear to have been vaping THC products, there are some cases that seem to have been from exclusively vaping nicotine. As of October 8, 2019, 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Vaping should not be used as a means of quitting smoking. According to the American Heart Association, in addition to nicotine, e-cigarette vapor includes potentially harmful substances such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. Users breathe in these toxic contaminants, and non-users nearby risk secondhand exposure.

Given the inherent risks of both smoking and vaping, the best option of all is not to smoke or vape. This is particularly true if you have asthma. Asthmatic lungs are particularly sensitive to a variety of triggers, including allergens, smoke, respiratory tract infections. If you are concerned you may have asthma, schedule an appointment with one of our providers. In the meantime, help your lungs and don’t take up the habit of vaping.

Tips for Food allergies and Halloween!

If you or your child has severe food allergies, carry your Epipen while trick or treating.

Talk to your children before you head out trick or treating to remind them not to eat the candy without checking the labels with an adult.

Visually check all labels before allowing your child to consume any candy that may contain their food allergens. (There have been recent publicity that there may be circulating candies with THC. So it is even more crucial to read all candy labels.

Remind teenagers, in particular, to avoid eating candy without reading the labels, as they may be trick or treating without parental supervision.

Teal Pumpkin Project: Look for teal pumpkins as a sign of food allergy friendly houses. Consider displaying a teal pumpkin and distributing a non-food item such as a toy, ball, figurine, etc.

Download October 2019 Newsletter (opens in PDF)