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  • People Urged to Stop Vaping Following 5 E-Cigarette-Related Deaths in the US

    Hundreds more have been hospitalized and put under intensive care
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
People Urged to Stop Vaping Following 5 E-Cigarette-Related Deaths in the US
PHOTO BY @MartenBG/iStock
  • Smoking kills — it’s a fact we’ve already known for a long time. Nicotine is also highly addictive, which is the reason why so many find it difficult to quit smoking, even if they want to. Thus, over the years, products that promise to help wean a person from nicotine and smoking have proliferated the market, from patches to gums to oral sprays and even inhalers, but none has been as popular and widely used as the vape. According to data from market research group Euromonitor, the number of vapers worldwide has risen from 7 million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016. What is even more alarming is that it is attracting an entirely new segment of users: teenagers. 

    Vaping, or the practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or a similar device, has been thought of as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Vapes, or e-cigarettes, are being marketed as a way to gradually help smokers quit smoking.

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    What is a vape?

    An electronic contraption the size of a powerbank, or sometimes as small as a pen, a vape or e-cigarette produces smoke by heating a liquid substance, thus giving the individual the illusion — and satisfaction — of smoking a cigarette, but supposedly without the risks. However, in recent weeks, reports of people falling ill or dying from using the vape has prompted officials to look into the dangers associated with vaping.

    Death by vaping

    In the United States, five vaping-related deaths have been reported, with patients’ ages ranging from 19 to 65. Most of the younger ones had no health issues to speak of. The Independent reports that apart from the deaths, there are now 450 more possible cases of vaping-related illness in 33 states across the U.S. 

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given a warning against vaping Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, which was present in a number of the vape samples obtained from those who fell sick. There were also traces of another chemical, vitamin E acetate. 

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    The FDA warning reads, “Because consumers cannot be sure whether any THC vaping products may contain vitamin E acetate, consumers are urged to avoid buying vaping products on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil or modifying/adding any substances to products purchased in stores.” However, 17% of the patients in Illinois and Wisconsin who became severely ill said they only vaped nicotine products.

    Following the deaths, the US Centers for Disease Control has raised the alarm for a new type of pneumonia called Lipoid, which it says is contracted from the use of liquids and oils through e-cigarettes, reports Gulf News

    According to Healthline, lipoid penumonia is “a rare condition that occurs when fat particles enter the lungs.” Exogenous lipoid pneumonia “occurs when a fatty substance is inhaled or aspirated. Aspiration occurs when you swallow a solid or a liquid ‘down the wrong pipe.’ When matter enters the windpipe instead of the esophagus, it can end up in the lungs.” The substance causes the lungs to be inflamed, which can be severely and permanently damaging.

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    Symptoms of vaping-related illness

    Some of the early symptoms of lung illness from vaping are shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, coughing, fever, and vomiting. Some have also reported chest pain and diarrhea. Those who suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening condition, had to be admitted under intensive care at the hospital. Some of the patients needed supplementary oxygen or a ventilator. According to The New York Times, their lung scans reveal a viral pneumonia-type of disease, although their blood tests show no infection.

    With all these reports supporting claims that e-cigarettes are unsafe and are, in fact, detrimental to one’s health, health professionals are advising the public to seek other means to control their nicotine addiction. In the analysis, the authors wrote, “Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should consult with their health care provider and use proven treatments.”

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