Vaping is becoming more and more prominent among young people who seem to be unaware of the real dangers these e-cigarettes pose to their health. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 high schoolers are vaping, which means a large number of teens are being exposed to nicotine even though they aren’t smoking cigarettes. While many believe that vaping isn’t as detrimental to your health as cigarettes, vaping is still dangerous.
If you suspect your teen may be vaping or simply want to educate your child on the dangers of e-cigarettes before there is a temptation to start, you’ll want to show them these six awful side effects that vaping might have on them. Education is key for teens in helping them make educated choices, so it’s important they know the dangers that vaping and e-cigarettes pose to their physical and mental health.
Vaping is inhaling the vapor created by an electronic cigarette. When e-cigarettes were first introduced, they seemed to be marketed as a smoking cessation device meant to help adults who were trying to quit smoking, but they quickly found an audience amongst younger adults and teens. Approximately nine percent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Now, e-cigarettes seem to be marketed towards younger people with a variety of flavors and designs that are appealing to younger audiences despite manufacturers vehemently denying that they’re trying to appeal to a younger demographic.
“The teens are after innovation and they’re attracted by sleek design and ease of use,” Sarper Taskiran, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, said when explaining why teens are so drawn to vaping. “They look like an Apple product.”
Vaping can cause lung irritation similar to that of traditional cigarette smokers and people with lung disease. It can cause damage to immune system cells, as well as cause circulatory problems by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. In 2019 there was an outbreak of a vaping-related illness that resulted in lung injury in the United States, prompting the CDC to warn against the use of some e-cigarettes.
In addition to causing potential lung damage or irritation, vaping can also cause five other negative side effects for teens. USA Today notes that nicotine-induced changes in the brain could lead to poor performance in school; weight loss can be a result of nicotine suppressing their appetite; they may suffer from nausea or vomiting as the body responds to nicotine in their system, as well as mouth sores and coughing as vaping inflames the cells of the mouth and oral tissue. Reports of seizures, as well as other neurological symptoms after vaping, have also been recorded.
Thoracic surgeon Osita Onugha, MD, explained to SingleCare why vaping is so dangerous for teens. “Vaping is terrible in general and even worse for a teenager,” Dr. Onugha stated. “As the body is growing and maturing, vaping introduces irritants in the lungs that can stay in the lung for decades.”
EVALI is a respiratory illness that has been associated with vaping. “EVALI causes lung injury-producing pneumonia, respiratory failure, and chronic lung disease,” Joi Lucas, MD, explained. “Diacetyl, a chemical found in flavorings popular in electronic cigarettes, is a known cause of bronchiolitis obliterans, irreversible scarring and restriction of the lung.” Dr. Lucas also explains how high doses of nicotine can affect a teen’s mood. “Nicotine in e-cigarettes impacts areas of the brain that control mood, impulse control, learning, and attention.”
Due to the addictiveness of nicotine, the more a teen vapes, the greater the risk to their health. According to Child Mind, nicotine addiction makes it harder for teens to focus and concentrate, which could hurt their school and extracurricular activities. JUUL, a popular brand of e-cigarettes, especially among the teen demographic, uses nicotine salts in their product which allows for higher levels of nicotine. “All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes,” writes the CDC. Studies also show that kids who vape are almost four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes than kids who don’t vape.
Parents need to have open conversations with their teens about vaping and the dangers it presents to their health. If your teen is already vaping and struggling to quit, understand that this is a real addiction so you may want to speak to your family doctor to get advice on how to best help your child stop.
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