Vaping illness — it sounds pretty frightening, right? Technically, this condition is called e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI, for short). EVALI was so named after the tracking of cases of severe lung problems in people who vape began. There are thousands of individuals who have had lung damage requiring hospital treatment after continuous vaping, and some even passed away from the condition.
There are, no doubt, thousands upon thousands of people hoping to quit smoking cigarettes or joints at any given time. After all, we’ve all been told for decades just how harmful smoking can be, negatively affecting almost every single organ that is found in your body, including the heart and, more obviously, the lungs. Even secondhand smoke can be extremely dangerous.
So, then, it is not too surprising that many people decide to switch from smoking to vaping as a healthier alternative. E-cigarettes and vaping devices, including vape pens, are popular choices among those making the change and they most certainly expose users to fewer toxic chemicals than smoking. But, it is vitally important to be aware of the health risks that are involved with vaping, among them vaping illness.
Though researchers and doctors are continuing to learn more about EVALI, they have identified some early signs that vapers should note.
Early EVALI indications
Doctors caution that they are not yet certain of what exactly causes EVALI, but that inflammation in the lungs seems to take place due to a component of the aerosol that is ingested during the vaping process. A person with EVALI will likely develop problems with breathing and digestion, as well as other symptoms that can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
- Tightness in chest
- Appetite Loss
- Weight Loss
Some people have reported that their EVALI symptoms came on quickly, as in a number of days, while others found that theirs developed over a matter of weeks. Regardless of how long their symptoms took to reveal themselves, all those diagnosed with EVALI developed serious lung damage, the kind that could potentially require ventilator support and intensive care in the hospital.
The risks of vaping illness
While it may be easy to assume that those who are most at risk for vaping illness may be older or already in poor health, sadly, that’s not the case. Quite a large percentage of EVALI sufferers are in healthy, normal condition, and the average age of those diagnosed is in their mid-20s. Nearly four out of five EVALI sufferers are younger than the age of 35—this trend is likely due to the fact that vaping tends to be most popular with those who are below that age benchmark. That being said, anyone who has vaped in the past 90 days is at risk for developing EVALI.
There are some things that may elevate the risk of EVALI, among them if the product that you choose to vape contains vitamin E acetate, which is generally used to thicken liquids in an e-cigarette or vaping products that have THC in them. In fact, many of the people who had the worst cases of EVALI were vaping THC products, though there are also reports of people dying from vaping with nicotine products only.
Unfortunately, the vaping industry is still largely unregulated, so users of vaping products must be their own advocates to ensure that they are using the safest products and methods possible.
What to do if you develop EVALI symptoms
If you are a regular user of vaping products, it’s probably a good idea to book a check-up with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that were covered earlier in this post. They will be able to do a full exam and, if applicable, rule out any other illnesses, which may require an X-ray of your chest or a CT scan.
If you do develop EVALI, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids in order to lower the inflammation in your lungs, or, in more extreme cases, you may require the aid of a ventilator to breathe. Even if your doctor diagnoses you with a cold or another condition that is less severe than EVALI, they may caution you against vaping in the future, at least until more is understood about vaping illness and how exactly it is contracted and cured.
If you decide that vaping isn’t the best option for your health due to the risks of developing EVALI, there are many other ingesting options that will still allow you to experience the full benefits of cannabis. A great place to start is with high-quality cannabis seeds, like those you’ll find for sale online from Pacific Seed Bank.